An announcement was made by NASA that it has selected its first new contingent of potential astronauts in four years and half of them are women.
The four men and four women who were chosen from among more than 6,100 applicants "will receive a wide array of technical training at space centers around the globe to prepare for missions to low-Earth orbit, an asteroid and Mars", NASA said in a statement.
The US astronaut training program was temporarily halted when the space shuttle era came to an end after three decades of carrying space explorers into orbit and bringing them back to Earth.
"These new space explorers asked to join NASA because they know we're doing big, bold things here - developing missions to go farther into space than ever before," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said.
"And they're ready to help lead the first human mission to an asteroid and then on to Mars," he said.
The new trainees are Josh A. Cassada, 39; Victor J. Glover, 37; Tyler N. Hague, 37; Christina M. Hammock, 34; Nicole Aunapu Mann, 35; Anne C. McClain, 34; Jessica U. Meir, 35; Andrew R. Morgan, 37.
Five of the eight are active-duty military officers.
The new astronaut candidates will begin their training in August at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.