New NASA astronaut recruits include Nichole “Vapor” Ayers from Colorado

NASA announced its 10 new astronaut recruits out of a pool of more than 12,000 applicants, and a woman from Colorado made the cut.

Among the 10 selected members is Nichole “Vapor” Ayers, 32, of Divide. She graduated from Woodland Park High School in Woodland Park and then the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics with a minor in Russian, according to NASA. She went on to earn her master’s degree in computational and applied mathematics from Rice University.

“Ayers is an experienced combat aviator with more than 200 combat hours and more than 1,150 hours of total flight time in the T-38 and the F-22 Raptor fighter jet,” NASA wrote about Ayers on its website. “One of the few women currently flying the F-22, in 2019 Ayers led the first ever all-woman formation of the aircraft in combat.”

At the time of her application to NASA, she was the assistant director of operations in the 90th Fighter Squadron at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, according to NASA.

The group will report for duty in January 2022 and will then undergo two years of initial astronaut training.

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