NASA announced Monday a Jacksonville woman is among the 8 astronaut candidates selected for its 2013 astronaut class after an extensive year-and-a-half long search .
34-year-old Christina Hammock is from Jacksonville. She holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from North Carolina State University. She currently serves as National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration station chief in American Samoa.
The mission for these astronauts will be to help lead the first human mission to an asteroid and then on to Mars. These new trainees would potentially be the first astronauts to launch on a commercial spacecraft from U.S. soil.
The 2013 astronaut candidate class comes from the second largest number of applications NASA ever has received - more than 6,100.
The group will receive a wide array of technical training at space centers around the globe to prepare for missions to low-earth orbit, an asteroid, and Mars.
NASA administrator Charles Bolden said "These new space explorers asked to join NASA because they know we're doing big, bold things, developing missions to go farther into space than ever before."