Amid great levity, Astronaut Group 22, known as “The Turtles”, gathered on stage at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas to celebrate their graduation from training.
The class, which included two Albertans – Jenni Sidey-Gibbons and Josh Kutryk, two Coloradans – Matthew Dominick and Jessica Watkins, and one Iowan – Raja Chari, swapped stories about their two years together as each of them took to the stage for their hard-earned silver astronaut pins.
Being an astronaut is still a rare opportunity – the 14 members of the 2017 class were selected from 18,300 applications. Even then, it’s not for everyone: Alaska’s Robb Kulin left training in 2018 (and is now at Firefly Aerospace).
Apart from regular stints on the International Space Station, many of the graduates will serve on the Artemis program. Its goal of a lunar 2024 is a mighty and perhaps even improbable proposition, but with the Moon literally centre stage at the event, the landing is clearly just a matter of time, not will.