Richland woman among first to graduate new NASA program

Richland woman chosen as NASA’s newest astronaut candidate

HOUSTON – A Richland woman is one of the first graduates of NASA’s Artemis program, according to a news release.

Kayla Barron is among the first 13 people to graduate from the new program after completing two years of basic training.

The candidates, selected in 2017, include 11 NASA astronauts and two from the Canadian Space Agency. They graduated Friday morning during a ceremony at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

The program is meant to prepare astronauts for missions to the International Space Station, the Moon and ultimately, Mars.

NASA plans to send the first woman and next man to the surface on the Moon by 2024. Additional lunar missions are planned once a year thereafter and human exploration of Mars is targeted for the mid-2030s.

“These individuals represent the best of America, and what an incredible time for them to join our astronaut corps,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston where the graduation ceremony took place. “2020 will mark the return of launching American astronauts on American rockets from American soil, and will be an important year of progress for our Artemis program and missions to the Moon and beyond.”

According to her bio, Barron is a U.S. Navy lieutenant who grew up in Richland. She graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy with a bachelor’s degree in systems engineering.

A Gates Cambridge Scholar, Barron earned a master’s degree in nuclear engineering from the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom.

As a submarine warfare officer, Barron served aboard the USS Maine (SSBN 741), completing three strategic deterrent patrols. She came to NASA from the U.S. Naval Academy, where she was serving as the flag aide to the superintendent.

CNN contributed to this report.