NewsPositively Hampton Roads


Hear from the Williamsburg woman selected as one of NASA’s newest astronauts

Posted at 2:38 PM, Jan 17, 2020

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. - Wearing blue jumpsuits and with eager grins, 11 men and women walked across a stage in Houston, Texas, last week.

"It is s still surreal everyone in 👩🏻‍🚀 feels incredibly lucky to be here," said Zena Cardman.

They are history makers - the next NASA class to head to space - and one of those graduates is Cardman, a Williamsburg resident. Cardman spoke to News 3 on Friday from the Johnson Space Center.

"I found out the answer was 'yes,' and it was an utterly overwhelming moment," said Cardman.

Two years ago - while sitting with friends and watching "Apollo 13," of course - she got the call from NASA that she was chosen among 18,000 applicants.

"At every round of the interview stage, I felt in total awe and inspired by other people I was interviewing with," she said.

Cardman and the 10 other astronauts are the first to join NASA since its Artemis program was announced. In 2024, the program aims to send the first humans to the moon since 1972 and to Mars sometime in the 2030s.

NASA says the moon mission will include the first woman, and statistically that could be Cardman.

"No matter what mission we get assigned to eventually -  or missions if we are lucky enough - anything would be an absolute joy," said Cardman.

Cardman has been undergoing immense training in Houston for the past two years to prepare for space flight.

"We learn everything from the engineering systems on board the International Space Station, emergency procedures, jets. We learn the Russian language, space walk training -  it's very diverse," she said.

Cardman graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill with a biology and marine sciences degree, she says her passion is Microbiology.

"I am excited to get to use my training, no matter where it takes me," she said.

Wherever she goes, she will have a fan club cheering for her on from Williamsburg and the Peninsula.

"It fills me with pride and happiness to know that people are following along with this journey. There is something so engaging about space travel and to have people from my hometown rooting for me -  that is really exciting," she said.

To learn more about Zena, click here.