2017 NASA Astronaut Candidate – Robb Kulin. (Robert Markowitz / NASA)An Alaskan is among the 12 people selected by NASA for the newest class of astronaut candidates. Robb Kulin will report to Johnson, Texas in August, where he will begin 2 years of training.Listen nowKulin was born and raised in Anchorage, where he graduated from Robert Service High School. Later, he earned a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Denver. That’s where he first became interested in space travel.“In undergraduate, I kind of had my eyes opened to the possibilities of space exploration,” Kulin said. “Coming from the last frontier I was pretty excited about the next frontier. I’ve kind of been pursuing it ever since. And the great part about pursuing something like this is it’s just great encouragement to go and do things that would be fun otherwise.”Along the way to becoming an astronaut candidate, Kulin got his pilot license and learned how to SCUBA dive. Experiences like ice drilling in Antarctica and working as a commercial fisherman have helped him develop the kinds of problem-solving skills that astronauts need in space.“You’re working in a tight environment with some others through pretty tough opportunities,” Kulin explained. “You’re pretty self-contained. When something goes wrong on the boat, you have to fix it right? And so those are kind of similar attributes to what they’re looking for, you know, what can happen in space. Something goes wrong in the space station, it takes a while to get resupply so you’ve got to try to fix it there.”Most recently, Kulin has been working at SpaceX in Hawthorne, California as a senior manager for flight reliability. He was involved with the design of Dragon, a free-flying spacecraft which NASA has used to deliver supplies to the International Space Station. When asked if there are any future missions or projects that he hopes to be a part of, Kulin said it’s difficult to know what’s ahead.“One thing that I’ve learned in the space industry over the last six and a half years is that it’s incredibly dynamic these days,” Kulin said. “And it’s hard to really imagine what could be happening in the next 6 and a half, seven years, eight years, whenever I get an opportunity.After Kulin completes his two years of training as an astronaut candidate, he will be assigned technical duties in NASA’s Astronaut Office while he awaits a flight assignment.
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