Clements High School Graduate Selected by NASA to join 2017 Astronaut Candidate Class

Loral O’Hara’s official NASA gallery portrait. Photo credit by NASA/Robert Markowitz.

A 2001 graduate from Fort Bend ISD’s Clements High School has been selected by NASA to join the 2017 Astronaut Candidate Class. Loral O’Hara is one of 12 chosen from the more than 18,300 applicants to be a part of NASA’s new astronaut class. O’Hara and the other candidates will report for duty in August 2017.

O’Hara was born in Houston, Texas, and raised in Sugar Land, where she attended Quail Valley Elementary, First Colony Middle School and Clements High School. FBISD caught up with O’Hara at NASA’s Johnson Space Center and talked to her about her incredible journey. “I am just insanely honored by the opportunity, and grateful and humbled,” said O’Hara. “I am really looking forward to just coming down here and being a part of the team.”

O’Hara credits her community, schools and teachers for equipping her with the tools she needed to get to where she is today, but admitted that she struggled with one particular subject. “My favorite subjects in school when I was younger were probably English and art. I also loved science, but my worst subject was actually math. I struggled with math the whole way through,” O’Hara said.

O’Hara and her fellow 2017 NASA Astronaut Candidates: Zena Cardman, Jasmin Moghbeli, Jonny Kim, Frank Rubio, Matthew Dominick, Warren Hoburg, Robb Kulin, Kayla Barron, Bob Hines, Raja Chari, Loral O’ Hara and Jessica Watkins. Photo credit by NASA/Robert Markowitz.

Because of her trouble with the subject, O’Hara worked that much harder to learn math so she could use it. After graduating from Clements, she went to the University of Kansas where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering. In 2009, she also received a Master of Science in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Purdue University.

At the time of her selection by NASA, O’Hara was a Research Engineer at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. Prior to that, she worked for Stone Aerospace in Austin, Texas as a design engineer and as a project engineer at Rocketplane Limited in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

The process to become a member of NASA’s Astronaut Class is long and multi-faceted. In addition to meeting the educational and physical qualifications of a NASA astronaut, an applicant must undergo five steps of interviews and screenings.  This year a record-breaking 18,353 people applied to be in the newest Astronaut Class, so O’Hara’s selection is worthy of high praise.

On June 7th, Vice President Mike Pence visited NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston to congratulate the 12 new candidates.  “These are 12 men and women whose personal excellence and personal courage will carry our nation to even greater heights of discovery,” he remarked as he relayed a message of congratulations from President Donald Trump.  Vice President Pence beamed with “privilege and honor” to congratulate these 12 brave men and women and wished them luck in preparation for future space missions.

Good luck, 2017 NASA Astronaut Loral O’Hara! Your Fort Bend home will be rooting for you!