Gilbert woman among 10 new NASA astronaut candidates

Arizona is going to be well-represented in space, as NASA announced 10 new astronaut candidates on Dec. 6, with one of them, Christina Birch, hailing from Gilbert.

Related: NASA selects 10 new astronauts ahead of moon, Mars explorations

"I am so excited to be a part of the program, said Birch, who was chosen out of a pool of 12,000 applicants. "It was conglomerate experiences I gained growing up in Arizona, and the awesome opportunities I had in the desert."

Birch graduated from the University of Arizona with a degree in mathematics, biochemistry and molecular biophysics. She went on to earn a doctorate in biological engineering from MIT. Birch also competed on the U.S. National Team as a top track cyclist.

All of these experiences led her to be a NASA astronaut.

"A big part of being an astronaut is the training we are about to step into," said Birch. "We have two years together as a class to start to prepare us for a foundation and the space station systems."

For the next two years, Birch and the other nine astronauts will be going through extensive training. Among other things, they will be learning robotics and get trained for space walk, all with the hopes to one day step foot back on the Moon.

"I am super excited to represent Arizona," said Birch. "I feel passionate about a place I grew up, and it is an honor to share this experience."

Birch will be moving to Houston to start her training. She said she will be packing up all her bikes with her.

Other Air and Space Stories

Tune in to FOX 10 Phoenix for the latest news

For the latest local news, download the FOX 10 News app