Lt. Kayla Barron, 32, will be among the 11 NASA candidates graduating Jan. 10,  and will then be eligible for space travel after the graduation, which is the first to occur under NASA’s new “Artemis” program.

That program’s goal is to land a manned spacecraft on the moon by 2024, putting Barron in the running to be the first woman to visit or set foot on the moon. Spokane’s Anne McClain, who completed her astronaut training in 2015, has also been rumored as the first potential female moon walker.

NASA - Kayla Barron

Barron, a 2006 graduate of Richland High School, had previously been assigned to the USS Maine, a ballistic missile submarine ported in Bangor, Washington. She has earned a bachelor’s degree in systems engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy and a master’s degree in nuclear engineering from the University of Cambridge, in England.

All astronaut candidates have completed training in spacewalking, robotics, International Space Station systems, T-38 jet proficiency, and the Russian language. At the ceremony, each candidate will receive an astronaut pin, marking their graduation from basic training and their eligibility to be selected to fly in space.


The Artemis program has designs on reaching Mars, a prospect Barron said intrigued her after her 2017 selection to receive astronaut training from a pool of 18,000 applicants. Barron said, “It appeals to our sense of adventure and everyone is excited to push the envelope of what NASA has done before and move on deeper into the solar system.”