The NASA Corps. Class of 2017 inducted five men and seven women on Wednesday, and two of them have direct connections to the Yellowhammer state. Bob Hines earned a Master of Science degree from The University of Alabama, and Dr. Frank Rubio worked on an Alabama military base as a flight surgeon.
Prior to joining NASA, both men had extensive military experience. UA graduate Hines serves in the U.S. Air Force and the USAF Reserves for a combined 18 years. During that time he flew 3,500 total hours in 41 different types of aircraft. Rubio served in a combat capacity in Bosnia, Afghanistan, and Iraq for over 600 hours. His time in Alabama consisted of serving as a surgeon and clinic supervisor at Huntsville’s Redstone Arsenal.
After two more years of training, the Class of 2017 will spend most of its missions on commercial space vessels flying to the International Space Station. Some will also fly on NASA’s new Orion Space Craft, which is designed to travel beyond the moon. Its engine is being designed at the Mashall Space Flight Center in Huntsville.
Becoming an astronaut is no easy task. According to NASA, becoming an astronaut requires significant “related, progressively responsible, professional experience” or at least 1,000 hours of “pilot-in-command time in jet aircraft.”