What has been a childhood dream may soon become a reality for Andre Douglas as he’s been selected as one of the 10 astronaut candidates who could be part of NASA‘s first human missions to the moon in over 50 years.
Making the final 10 of NASA’s 2021 Astronaut Candidate Class wasn’t also a walk in the park as the candidates were shortlisted from over 12,000 applicants. The names of this year’s 10 elite candidates were announced on December 6.
And they were selected after extensive rounds of interviews, team exercises, medical checkups, and aptitude tests, per The Virginian-Pilot. Since 1959’s Mercury Seven crew, 360 people have been selected into NASA’s astronaut corps.
As a member of this year’s group, Douglas will partake in a two-year NASA training program that will kick-start in January. Should he eventually pass the program, the Virginia native will be part of the crew that will blast off into space for planned future missions to the International Space Station, the moon, and possibly Mars.
“Going on any mission would be a dream,” Douglas told the news outlet. “To see Earth from space is just a dream.”
Per his profile, Douglas, 35, holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and a master’s degree in naval architecture and marine engineering from the University of Michigan.
He also holds a master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering from Johns Hopkins University, Maryland, and a doctorate in systems engineering from George Washington University.
Douglas also served in the U.S. Coast Guard for seven years where he was a naval architect, salvage engineer, damage control assistant, and officer of the deck. The 35-year-old has also worked at Johns Hopkins’ Applied Physics Lab (APL). As a senior professional staff member at the lab, Douglas’s work centered on maritime robotics, planetary defense, and space exploration missions.
“As an engineer at APL, Douglas supported the fault management team during the development of the DART planetary defense mission for NASA. He also supported the systems engineering team on MEGANE, a sophisticated gamma-ray and neutron spectrometer instrument, developed to support the Mars Moons eXploration (MMX) spacecraft developed by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA),” NASA said.
“Upon his selection as a NASA astronaut candidate, Douglas was participating in the Lunar Surface Innovation Consortium (LSIC) at APL in collaboration with NASA to identify lunar surface needs and recommend technology development strategies. He also supported a variety of APL proposals for NASA.”
Outside work, Douglas partakes in youth community service projects, and he has provided mentorship for underprivileged students through FIRST robotics competitions and Junior Achievement mentoring programs, The Virginian-Pilot reported.
“For all the kids out there today: Follow your dreams,” Douglas said. “If you do what you love, it doesn’t feel hard. You just want to keep going and do more, so you can find out what your maximum potential is. Who can you really be?”