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New class of astronaut trainees includes White Bear Lake man

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For the first time in four years, NASA is breaking in a new group of astronauts and the eight member class includes a Minnesotan.

White Bear Lake native Josh Cassada is a 39-year-old former naval aviator and co-founder of Quantum Opus, a company that develops photon detection equipment for physicists.

He and his seven classmates were chosen from more than 6,000 applicants -- the second-largest number of applications NASA has ever received.

The announcement by NASA reminded Cassada's father of a family photo. Jack Cassada tells the Pioneer Press he plans to track down the snapshot of a 16-year-old Josh with his head in a cardboard space helmet.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden says the new class of astronaut candidates will help lead the first human mission to an asteroid sometime in the next decade and could be headed to Mars in the following decade.

As the Christian Science Monitor reports, four of the eight members of the class are women and all were born after the Apollo-Soyuz space race had ended.

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