12,000+ people applied to be a NASA astronaut for missions to our Moon and Mars

More than 12,000 individuals applied for the job of astronaut in NASA's 2020 call for interest in the Artemis Generation. Those chosen for the program will be involved in Artemis missions to our Moon and beyond. "We've entered a bold new era of space exploration with the Artemis program," said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. "We are thrilled to see so many incredible Americans apply to join us."

"The next class of Artemis Generation astronauts will help us explore more of the Moon than ever before and lead us to the Red Planet," said Bridenstine. This campaign was announced earlier this year and spread across the internet with a social media campaign entitled #BeAnAstronaut. The entirety of the application window started March 2, and closed March 31.

This isn't the first time NASA's sent out a general call for applications for future astronauts – and it won't be the last. This time around, NASA's education requirements included a master's degree in a science, technology, math, or engineering field. The application period for the most recent call before this most recent call included a 2-month window, and this most recent call only opened for one month.

NASA has 48 astronauts in their active astronaut corps here in April of 2020. As they've suggested this week, "more will be needed to serve as crew aboard spacecraft bound for multiple destinations and propel exploration forward as part of Artemis missions and beyond."

Over the past 60 years, NASA's selected 350 people to train as astronaut candidates. Once selected, new candidates will enter a program of approximately two years of "initial skills training." This training will include spacewalking, robotics, and spacecraft systems, as well as what NASA described as "expeditionary behavior skills, such as leadership, followership, and teamwork."

Take a peek at the timeline below for more information on the next several NASA missions, including NASA's Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft, Artemis missions to the Moon, and eventual travel to Mars!