Vice President Pence visits Houston, new astronauts announced

- It was packed house as folks welcomed the 12 new astronauts to the Johnson Space Center Wednesday afternoon.

"The 2017 class of America's astronauts," announced Vice President Mike Pence.

The Vice President helped lead the ceremony, welcoming the first new class since 2013. This group was selected from more than 18,000 candidates.

"The courage of these men and woman and all the astronauts that have gone before inspires me to this very day," says Vice President Pence.

One of the new team members included Robert Hines who currently works at NASA as a research pilot in the aircraft operations division. While others got a call on May 25 of the announcement, he got an in person visit.

"So we fly the entire way and don't talk about a thing, it was me and Chris and this giant elephant in the cockpit with us," says Hines.

Another new astronaut is Houston-native Loral O'Hara.

"Growing up in Houston, I had Johnson Space Center right down the road and my second grade class even got to grow a tomato plant that was flown on the space shuttle," says O'Hara.

The Vice President took time to tour the Christopher C. Kraft Junior Mission Control Center to be briefed on current operations as well.

At the ceremony, the class talked about their goals for their time with the space program and their hopes for future exploration, which Vice President Pence encouraged.

"NASA will have the resources and support you need to continue to make history," says Vice President Pence.

"I think a lot of our class shares that curiosity  and excitement for exploring the world and going farther than anyone has gone before," says O'Hara.

Vice President Mike Pence announced that President Trump will relaunch the National Space Counsel and that he will soon be chairing that as well.

"It was an honor to join Vice President Pence in announcing the next astronaut class who will lead the world in space exploration," said Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who met with Vice President Pence at Johnson Space Center. "Texas has long been at the forefront of innovation and exploration, and the brave men and women at NASA's Johnson Space Center are a true testament to this. Texas wishes all the candidates well in their future work, and I congratulate them on this tremendous accomplishment."

The candidates hope to perform research on the International Space Station, launching from American soil aboard spacecraft built by American companies, and traveling to the moon or even Mars with the help of NASA's new Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System rocket.

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