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TULLAHOMA, Tenn. — Two University of Tennessee Space Institute degree candidates have been named to NASA’s astronaut class of 1996, NASA announced Wednesday.

They are Marine Corps Capt. Charles O. Hobaugh and Navy Lt. Scott J. Kelly, both currently assigned to the Naval Air Station test pilot school at Patuxent River, Md.

Both will be trained as space shuttle pilots, beginning Aug. 12 at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

“We’re happy for them,” said Ralph Kimberlin, head of UTSI’s aviations systems program. “They’re very good students and should do well in the astronaut program.”

“Their work here has been exemplary,” said UTSI vice president Dwayne McCay. “

“We may have to change the name of the institute to Astronaut U. We’ve had five selected for the astronaut corps in the last two years.”

Nine former UTSI students and one faculty member, McCay’s wife Mary Helen McCay, have been NASA astronauts. The first two were Henry Hartsfield and Don Peterson, who flew during the early years of the space shuttle program. Another astronaut, Dr. Rhea Seddon, is a surgeon who got her medical degree at the University of Tennessee-Memphis. Neil Armstrong took some summer courses at UTSI after becoming the first man on the moon but was not a degree candidate.

Scott Kelly will receive his master’s degree in aviation systems at UTSI May 9. Hobaugh needs three hours to complete work on his master’s degree at UTSI.

Kelly and Hobaugh were among 35 candidates chosen from more than 2,400 applicants. Ten of the 35 are pilots, the others will be mission specialists.

Scott Kelly and his twin, Mark, made history Wednesday when they became the first twins selected for the astronaut corps.

Like Scott, Mark is a Navy lieutenant and fighter pilot stationed at the Patuxent River Naval Air Station.

Scott is a test pilot in the Strike Aircraft Test Squadron. Mark is an instructor at the test pilot school.

Both dreamed of becoming astronauts but went to different colleges and studied different kinds of engineering. Both entered the test pilot school in 1993.

They are so close to identical that Duane Ross, manager of NASA’s astronaut selection office, joked: “We’ll have to get one of them to get a tattoo on their forehead or wear a cap.”

Contact: Ralph Kimberlin (615-393-7408)