Williamsburg woman becomes one of NASA’s newest astronauts

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. -- NASA welcomed 11 new astronauts Friday, including Zena Cardman, a Virginia native who calls Williamsburg home.

Cardman graduated from Bruton High School in Williamsburg, received a Bachelor of Science in Biology and earned a Master of Science in Marine Sciences from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Cardman and the other graduates were selected for training in 2017 from a record-setting pool of more than 18,000 applicants, according to NASA.

The Williamsburg woman has focused her research primarily on microorganisms in subsurface environments, ranging from caves to deep sea sediments.

During the ceremony Friday, each astronaut received a silver pin, a tradition since the 1959 Mercury 7 astronauts.

The new graduates may be assigned to missions for the Moon, the International Space Station, and Mars. Cardman has been assigned technical duties and is currently awaiting flight assignment.

According to NASA, they will send the first woman and next man to the Moon by 2024 and by the 2030’s they will travel to Mars.

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