Last month, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the United States Office of Personnel Management (OPM) welcomed its new class of next-generation Artemis astronauts in a Tuesday ceremony at the agency’s Johnson Space Center. The 10 astronaut graduates are now eligible for flight assignments, while the two agencies also announced the opening for the next round of NASA astronaut applications.

The partnership now features an automated application and online pre-screen assessment. The space agency has taken advantage of the latest features and capabilities offered by OPM-managed sites – including USAJOBS, USA Staffing, and USA Hire – to help evaluate the applicants and select the finalists following an intensive, multi-stage process.

Growing Partnership

OPM and NASA first announced the release of an online application and assessment tools meant to streamline the astronaut selection process in 2020. It was introduced to help find the best candidates for future explorers of the Artemis lunar exploration program and beyond.

OPM coordinated closely with NASA human resources (HR) personnel, and current astronauts to design the application process and the assessment battery. It includes OPM’s USA Hire, and was designed to evaluate candidates on competencies specifically identified as highly critical for success in the astronaut position.

Those tools were part of a modernization effort that introduced greater automation in the application process through OPM’s USA Staffing talent acquisition system. That resulted in a more efficient processing and review of applicants. In addition, OPM and NASA developed and implemented a new competency-based online assessment battery to be delivered via the USA Hire platform.

“By partnering with OPM, NASA employed an automated and streamlined hiring process to screen applicants for these prestigious roles. OPM is thrilled to continue supporting NASA experts to design and implement their hiring methods,” said OPM Director Kiran Ahuja.

USA Staffing continues to design new tools to aid HR professionals and hiring managers so they can more efficiently hire at scale.

The Artemis Generation

While fewer than a dozen astronauts have completed their training, it should be noted that according to OPM more than 12,000 U.S. citizens applied in 2020 to go to infinity and beyond. Part of the reason is that the selection process has sought to be far more diverse than the astronauts who went to the Moon more than five decades ago.

This new class has been dubbed the “Artemis Generation,” which seeks to land the first woman and first person of color on the Moon – and using what is learned on and around the lunar body will aid in sending the first astronauts to Mars.

Training alongside the NASA astronaut candidates for the past two years were two UAE (United Arab Emirates) astronauts who also participated in last month’s graduation ceremony.

Trained and Ready for Space

Selected for training in 2021, the recent NASA astronaut class graduated after successfully completing more than two years of required basic training, including spacewalking, robotics, space station systems, and more. Those skills could soon be put to the test.

According to NASA, the recent graduates may be assigned to missions destined for the International Space Station (ISIS), future commercial space stations, and notably the Artemis campaign mission to the Moon in preparation for Mars.

“Astronauts are pioneers who will help us embark on this new era of exploration, and we need more adventurers ready to join the ranks to explore the cosmos, including future missions to the Moon, on to Mars, and beyond,” added NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.

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Peter Suciu is a freelance writer who covers business technology and cyber security. He currently lives in Michigan and can be reached at You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.