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NASA picks Gilbert woman as member of its 2021 astronaut class

Christina Birch.jpg
Posted at 9:25 PM, Dec 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-08 00:32:34-05

GILBERT, AZ — NASA is setting its sights on the moon and Mars by preparing for some big explorations.

Christina Birch says she could play a key role.

"I've always been interested in exploration since I was a little kid,” said Birch

The 35-year-old Valley woman is part of NASA’s 2021 Astronaut Class. She decided while working in a lab, to start looking toward space.

"I thought 'Hey, they are doing the same types of experiments aboard the International Space Station, maybe this is something I can contribute to,'” added Birch.

Birch filled out an application. One month later, after two rounds of interviews, she was selected.

"For me, the opportunity to be an astronaut and a part of NASA's space flight program was this perfect marriage of all of my different interests and passions,” added Birch.

These include her loves for science and engineering, exploring extreme environments, and pushing herself both mentally and physically.

Training takes two years and covers everything from space station systems to spacewalking.

The Gilbert high school and University of Arizona grad believes the most challenging part is putting together everything she's learned.

"For example, I might be speaking Russian underwater while I am going through a spacewalk protocol with a teammate,” added Birch.

NASA chose 10 people from a field of 12,000 applicants for the 2021 Astronaut Class.

Birch and her classmates will report to NASA next month.