(RNN) – NASA is losing its first astronaut candidate in half a century.
Robb Kulin’s last day will be Friday. He’s resigning “for personal reasons," NASA spokeswoman Stephanie Schierholz said.
.The Alaska native was a mechanical engineer at private aerospace company SpaceX before coming to NASA.
Kulin was part of the space agency’s 2017 Astronaut Candidate Class that was announced last summer.
"Hopefully, I will one day fly on a vehicle that has components that I got to design," Kulin said during a news conference announcing the class.
The final dozen candidates were selected from a pool of more than 18,000 applicants. With Kulin’s resignation, six men and five women remain.
The 2017 class is NASA’s 22nd group of trainees since the original Mercury 7 astronauts were selected in 1959.
The group ranged in age from 29 to 42 at the time. Kulin is 35 years old.
Just to be considered for an astronaut position, U.S. citizens must meet the following NASA qualifications:
- A bachelor's degree in engineering, biological science, physical science, computer science or math.
- At least three years of related professional experience obtained after degree completion or at least 1,000 hours pilot-in-command time on jet aircraft.
- The ability to pass the NASA long-duration astronaut physical. Vision must be correctable to 20/20 for each eye. Using glasses is OK.
Astronaut candidates must also have skills in leadership, teamwork and communications, according to the space agency.
The last astronaut candidates to leave the program before completing their two years of training were Brian O'Leary and John Llewellyn in 1968.
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