Spokane woman living dream of being an astronaut

SPOKANE, Wash. - 20608510

How many people have dreamed of being an astronaut someday, and then found out what we'd need to do get there and gave up? One Spokane woman never gave up, and Monday, her dream became a reality.

After a year and a half search by NASA, Army Major Anne McClain of Spokane was selected as one of eight people to become a candidate for astronaut out of a group of 6,300 applicants.

"I can't actually remember ever wanting to do something else. I know from a very early age, before I could even remember saying what I wanted to be when I grow up, I was saying, 'I want to be an astronaut," McClain said.

McClain, 34, grew up in Spokane and graduated from Gonzaga Prep in 1997. She then graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. After earning two masters degrees while studying in England, she went to Army Flight School at Ft. Rucker in Alabama and later deployed to Iraq for 15 months. Currently McClain is an OH-58 helicopter pilot in the Army and recently graduated from the U.S. Navy Test Pilot School at Paxtuent River.

"I've been fortunate enough along the way that the different experiences I've had, and the different opportunities have presented themselves to make this possible," she said.

McClain will spend the next two months moving from her home in Washington, D.C. to Houston. Her training will begin at the Johnson Space Center in Houston on August 12.

"We just undergo basic training in all facets of astronaut life from the organization of NASA, and Russian language training, training on the new equipment," McClain said.

McClain's dream came true Monday as she was selected to join the astronaut ranks. She'll now shoot for more dreams on the horizon.

"NASA is looking at a lot of different missions right now, from exploring Mars and asteroids to returning to the moon ... so for me personally I don't know where I'm going to fit in to all of that but it's certainly an exciting time to be joining NASA," she said.

In all, four women were selected to the 2013 astronaut class, the highest percentage of woman for a NASA astronaut candidate class in history.