Massachusetts has the right stuff.
Half of the 12 new astronaut candidates chosen by NASA on Wednesday have ties to the Bay State, including Loral O’Hara, who works as a submarine research engineer at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
The 12 candidates, five women and seven men, were chosen from 18,300 applications, the largest pool ever, NASA announced.
O’Hara, 34, a Texas native, could not immediately be reached for comment.
In 2013, she spoke to Oceanus Magazine, a Woods Hole publication, describing racks that would hold pressure housings to protect electronics on the Alvin, a submersible naval vessel.
“I designed the racks,” O’Hara told the magazine. “They will hold most of Alvin’s pressure housings, the titanium bottles that house the electronics for propulsion and for controlling the vehicle, cameras and lighting, and data handling.”
Prior to joining the staff at Woods Hole, O’Hara earned a bachelors in aerospace engineering from the University of Kansas and a masters in aeronautics and astronautics from Purdue, according to her biography on the NASA website. She is a private pilot and certified EMT.
Other members of the class with Massachusetts ties include Raja Chari, who received a masters in aeronautics and astronautics from MIT; Bob Hines, a graduate of Boston University, where he studied aerospace engineering; Warren “Woody” Hoburg, who received a bachelors in aeronautics and astronautics at MIT; Jonny Kim, a decorated a Navy SEAL who completed a doctorate of medicine at Harvard Medical School and is completing his residency in emergency medicine at Masschusetts General Hospital; and Jasmin Moghbeli, an MIT graduate with a bachelors in aerospace engineering with information technology.
“After completing two years of training, the new astronaut candidates could be assigned to missions performing research on the International Space Station, launching from American soil on spacecraft built by commercial companies, and flying on deep space missions on NASA’s new Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System rocket,” NASA said in a statement.
The agency will make the recruits available for interviews on Thursday morning by remote satellite link, Skype and phone, the statement said.
Call it one small step for the Bay State, one giant leap for the nation.