Skype session with Richland native selected for NASA's astronaut - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Skype session with Richland native selected for NASA's astronaut program

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RICHLAND, WA - One Richland native could possibly be going to space in a few years. NASA accepted Kayla Barron into its 2017 astronaut program, and reporter Jaclyn Selesky got the chance to hear all about her journey that led her there and what's next for her.

"It's crazy for an eastern Washington girl to be down here in Houston getting ready to train for such an exciting job," Barron said.

More than 18,000 people applied for the program, and Barron is one of just 12 in this year's class. Only 338 others in the whole country can call themselves an American astronaut.

Graduating from Richland High School with a focus in math and science, her roots are definitely planted in the Tri-Cities, which she says helped prepare her for where she is standing today. Barron is a U.S. Navy Lieutenant; she spent the last two and a half years on the U.S.S. Maine, working in the submarine warfare community.

"I think operating in confined spaces with limited resources and making decisions where the consequences really matter has some parallels with what the astronauts are doing on the space station, as well as what we'll need to do in order to be successful on long-duration deep space missions," said Barron.

Of course, Barron isn't the only one who's over the moon about this news. Her parents say she was destined to do something big.

"Inside of her she's always looking for that hard science, technology thing," said Scott Sax, Barron's father. "But she's really a pioneer. So being an astronaut sparked in her, fit both needs. She can be an astronaut and a scientist."

Barron could be assigned to a variety of missions including research on the International Space Station, but at the end of the day, she's just excited to be a part of this team.

"You know, I think I'll be happy to ride on any rocket to which I'm assigned," Barron said. "There's a lot of good options in development and I'm not going to be picky."

Her job with NASA officially starts on August 21st, which is when all of the candidates will report to the Johnson Space Center in Houston.