Tuesday, July 11, 2017

USNA Flag Aide Prepares for Service in Space

By MC2 Brianna Jones

Lt. Kayla Barron, currently serving as flag aide to U.S. Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Walter E. Ted Carter Jr., was recently selected by NASA to join the 2017 Astronaut Candidate Class.

Photo courtesy of NASA

An "astronaut candidate" is an individual selected by NASA to undergo a candidacy training program at the Johnson Space Center. The 2017 class of 12 astronaut candidates were announced June 7, 2017.

Barron is the 54th USNA graduate to be selected for the astronaut program.

"I think at the heart of my interest in the astronaut program is that it appealed to my adventurous, pioneering spirit," said Barron.

A Richland, Washington native, she graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2010 with a Bachelor’s degree in systems engineering as a member of the first class of women commissioned into the submarine community.

Immediately upon graduation, Barron attended the University of Cambridge on a Gates-Cambridge Scholarship, graduating with a Master’s degree in nuclear engineering before heading to Naval Nuclear Power Training Command for training. She then completed a tour on board USS Maine (SSBN 741), an Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine.

“After a couple of years working on the submarine, I knew I really enjoyed working in that environment," she said. "I got to learn how to operate on a team of highly-functioning people in a resource-limited environment, where the consequences of our decisions really mattered.”
Barron said that although she has always had a passion for science and exploration, the astronaut program is a fairly new goal for her.

“When I was exposed to the astronaut office a few years ago, I started to recognize all of the parallels between what we do on submarines and what our astronauts are doing on the international space station,” said Barron. “I think that was the moment that it clicked.”

Barron will report for duty in August 2017 to begin two years of training. Upon completion, she will be assigned technical duties in the Astronaut Office while she awaits a flight assignment.

According to a NASA press release, the new astronauts could be assigned to a variety of future missions, including performing research on the International Space Station, launching from American soil on spacecraft built by commercial companies, and departing for deep space missions on NASA’s new Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System rocket.