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Air Force fighter pilot chosen for NASA

Jun. 27, 2013 - 11:04AM   |  
Lt. Col. Tyler Hague was among eight people selected to be astronauts earlier this month.
Lt. Col. Tyler Hague was among eight people selected to be astronauts earlier this month. (NASA via AP)
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It took three tries over almost 10 years, but Lt. Col. Tyler Hague’s childhood dream is coming true.

The former fighter pilot will be an astronaut.

Hague was selected in mid-June to be one of eight new astronauts chosen from more than 6,100 applicants. It is NASA’s first class of astronaut candidates in four years.

He will be moving from his job as deputy chief of the Defense Department’s Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization at the Pentagon to begin training at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Texas next month.

“These new space explorers were asked to join NASA because they know we’re doing big, bold things here — developing missions to go farther into space than ever before,” NASA administrator Charles Bolden said in a statement.

The 2013 astronaut class faces two years of training to fly and work on the International Space Station. Course work includes technical training at space centers around the world to prepare for missions to low-Earth orbit, an asteroid and Mars, according to NASA’s website.

“It’s been a childhood dream,” Hague, 37, said. “But it really took hold during my time at U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School, when I was first exposed to flight test operations. The tight-knit, team approach conducting operations to prove out new concepts and expand understanding was something I really enjoyed; it’s what truly drew me to NASA’s astronaut program.”

Hague had applied three times, in 2004 and 2009 previously.

The qualification is an intense process, Hague said. After submitting paperwork, Hague faced initial qualification and medical screening through the Air Force, followed by two more rounds of interviews with NASA that included more medical testing, psychological screening and tests for aptitude in language-learning and mechanics.

Hague, who hails from Hoxie, Kansas, graduated from the Air Force Academy and earned a master’s degree in astronautical engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is a flight engineer by trade and has flown more than 500 hours in more than 30 aircraft, mainly the F-16, C-12 and T-38. He deployed to Iraq in 2004 as part of Operation Horned Owl, where he conducted experimental counter-IED operations. He had been serving as the deputy division chief in the Joint IED Defeat Organization.

Other astronaut selections include a Navy lieutenant commander, a major with the Marine Corps and two Army majors.

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