Eleven times American national champion, Christina Birch changes velodrome to undertake a journey which, she hopes, will take her to the moon. Birch’s drastic change in leadership comes after being selected for NASA’s Astronaut Class of 2021, which will see her embark on a two-year training course for the Artemis missions in Houston, TX.
“I’m super excited to be a 2021 astronaut candidate. It’s still a bit surreal for me,” Birch, two-time Pan American champion, said in a USA Cycling statement. “It probably wasn’t until I put on the blue flight suit for the first time that it started to become real.”
Birch was on the long list for the Tokyo Olympics and submitted her candidacy as she prepared at the Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center. “I filled out my application online before heading back to the track for some really hard work with the team,” she said.
“After the Olympic selection, I had a few talks at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. Each one left me feeling like it was best for me and what I wanted to do.” Birch, who holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, biochemistry and molecular biophysics, was selected along with nine other applicants from among 12,500 applicants.
“It’s kind of a dream. You hold your breath throughout the application process, hoping you get there,” she added. “I met so many amazing people during the interview process. Everyone is incredibly qualified. So I really feel like I won the lottery.”
Birch said the intense physical demands of her years of cycling training will come in handy for a trip she hopes will end on the International Space Station. “I think having a lot of comfort and familiarity in unfamiliar difficult processes, and still delivering 100% even when you are tired, these are lessons that I have learned as a rider that will serve me very well as a rider. that candidate, ”she said. noted.
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