Jessica Meir, currently a researcher and assistant professor of anesthesia at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, was selected from a pool of more than 6,000 applicants.
Atcheson says if anyone could achieve this, it's Meir
As for Jessica
It's all still sinking in. "It definitely does seem surreal, particularly, I think, since we weren't supposed to tell anybody until now," she
had to sit on the news for 10 agonizing days.
It's the culmination of a dream she's
had ever since she
was about five years old.
"I distinctly remember drawing a picture - I think in first grade, when we were supposed to draw a picture of what we wanted to be when we grew up, and I distinctly remember drawing an astronaut then," she
always been interested in exploration, and that she's
happiest when both mentally and physically challenged.
That's evident from her
She worked at the Johnson Space Center in Houston doing human physiology experiments, and currently works as comparitive physiologist, studying animals that live in extreme environments.
Oh - and she
also has her
private pilot's license.
Becoming an astronaut, Meir says, provides the ultimate environment for challenge, especially when you consider NASA's goals from Administrator Charles Bolden.
could be on the first human mission to an asteroid and to Mars.
was chosen from an initial group of 6,300 applicants.
That number was whittled down to 120, and after interviews and medical examinations, the number shrunk to 49.
As one of four women in an eight-member class, Meir's
group represents the highest percentage of women ever in a NASA training class.
"I'm very involved in public outreach and scientific outreach and education," Meir
"And I'm very, very thrilled to have another avenue in which to really stimulate the next generation of scientists and explorers, and particularly women."
Meir begins training in August at the Johnson Space Center.
excited and a little nervous, but mostly thrilled to have achieved her
dream with the support of family, friends, and mentors.
Atcheson says when the day comes that Meir
finally shuttles into space, there are going to be a lot of people in northern Maine looking up and smiling proudly.