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Yuma Marine named 1 of 12 NASA astronaut candidates

Twelve new astronaut candidates are introduced at the Johnson Space Center in Houston on Wednesday, June 7, 2017. NASA chose 12 new astronauts Wednesday from its biggest pool of applicants ever, selecting seven men and five women who could one day fly aboard the nation's next generation of spacecraft. (Michael Ciaglo/Houston Chronicle via AP)

PHOENIX — A Marine Corps officer currently grounded in Yuma, Arizona, might not be for long — literally.

Maj. Jasmin Moghbeli, 33, was one of 12 people chosen by NASA to become astronaut candidates.

The candidates will train for two years starting in August for missions that could include going into low Earth orbit or even deep space.

Those who complete the training will officially be named NASA astronauts, but for now, they are known as “ascans.”

Vice President Mike Pence was at the ceremony held on Wednesday, where he told the candidates President Donald Trump “is proud of you, and so am I.”

“These are 12 men and women whose personal excellence and personal courage will carry our nation to even greater heights of discovery, and who I know will inspire our children and our grandchildren every bit as much as your forebearers have done so in this storied American program,” Pence said.

The 22nd class introduced Wednesday is the largest group NASA has selected in almost 20 years.

Moghbeli is one of  five women chosen. She is a quality assurance and avionics officer for the Marine Corps’ Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron 1. She hails from Baldwin, New York, earned her Bachelor’s in Aerospace Engineering with Information Technology from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and got her Master’s in Aerospace Engineering at the Naval Postgraduate School.

“I could legitimately go on for hours about the many ways in which the Marine Corps has prepared me for this, but I will spare you,” Moghbeli told the crowd in a question-and-answer segment of the ceremony. “That being said, I can’t tell you how many times the Marine Corps has taken me outside of my comfort zone or pushed me to the point of failure and taught me to get back up and keep trying and keep pressing.

“I would not be where I am today, sitting up on this stage, if it weren’t for the many opportunities afford to me by the Marine Corps.”

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