Deniz Burnham grew up looking at space through her grandfather’s telescope. Now, she has the chance to travel beyond Earth’s atmosphere and perhaps even land on the moon. The Wasilla, Alaska, resident was selected as one of 10 NASA astronaut candidates who were chosen from a pool of more than 12,000 applicants.
Burnham served in the Navy Reserves and worked as an engineer managing onsite drilling projects in the Arctic and the continental United States. She has always wanted to be an astronaut and fulfilled her passion for exploration through flight. She is a licensed fixed-wing and helicopter pilot, and flies paragliders and paramotors. “A NASA astronaut to me is an explorer at heart. I think they are the very embodiment of it,” Burnham said shortly after her selection. “You get to inspire people from all walks of life.”
Burnham started astronaut training in January and will spend two years learning skills including piloting a training jet, preparing for space walks, and operating equipment for the International Space Station. After training, she could be selected to perform research aboard the International Space Station or go on lunar missions as part of NASA’s Artemis program, which aims to return astronauts to the moon and advance the science of sending humans to Mars.