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Air Force Lt. Col. Tyler Hague is among an elite group of eight astronaut candidates selected by NASA to train for future space missions. The new class—the first since 2009—could find themselves walking on an asteroid and eventually even Mars, states a NASA release. "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. The selection process included a year-and-a-half search and a pool of more than 6,000 applicants—the largest number of applicants ever received by NASA, states the release. The four female and four male candidates will report to the Johnson Space Center in Houston in August to begin training; however, they will receive technical training at various space centers to prepare for missions, according to NASA. Hague, 37, currently works as deputy chief of the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization. He is a graduate of the US Air Force Academy and the Air Force Test Pilot School.