Graduate Reaches For The Stars

Bristol graduate selected by NASA for possible missions to Mars


One lucky Bristol graduate has learnt she’ll be heading into space with NASA, and possibly even going to Mars, having been selected as a member of the 2013 Astronaut Candidate Class.

Ann C. McClain, who studied for a master’s degree in International Security at Bristol, was selected along with seven others from the second largest pool of applicants the agency has ever seen – over 6,100.

The announcement of her inclusion came almost 50 years to the day since the Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman to have flown in space. McClain’s inclusion, alongside three other female trainees, marks the highest ever proportion of women to be enrolled onto the programme.

A serving major in the U.S. army, Ms McClain has also completed a master’s at Bath University in addition to her education at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York.

In his welcome to the new recruits, former astronaut and current NASA Administrator Charles Bolden described his own personal awe at their individual achievements and described the missions that lay ahead of them, including possible expeditions to Mars in the 2030s.

For McClain and her colleagues, basic training at the Johnson Space Center in Houston will begin in August and they will no doubt be eager to get started. Speaking of the moment she told her mother the good news, Ms McClain said: ‘she screamed…she sounded like she had the same reaction that I did’.