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Local NASA astronaut candidate Loral O'Hara sits down with KPRC

HOUSTON – When Loral O’Hara sat down with KPRC, about 24 hours had passed since she and 11 others were introduced to the world as NASA’s new astronaut candidates.

She said she had not stopped smiling in the last several days.

She said she visited the Johnson Space Center often when she was growing up.

“It’s somewhere I’ve been coming my whole life pretty much. Growing up in Houston and living out in Missouri City and Sugar Land. I’ve come here both with my family and on field trips both to do. They’ll do fun runs around here and (I) come for those,” O’Hara said.

But her story started in Fort Bend County.

“They’re excellent schools. That’s how we ended up in that area. Just for the quality of the schools. In high school, I had a lot of opportunities on different sports teams. And they had a really great art program that I was a part of. And, of course, the academics were incredible at Clements,” O’Hara said.

[WATCH: Loral O'Hara interview with KPRC]

O’Hara, along with more than 18,000 others applied a year and a half ago. Now it’s down to O’Hara and 11 others who will train for the next two years before a possible space assignment. Her first goals are close to earth.

“Just to be a good team member. And learn as much as I can. Learn from the people I’m working with and do well with all of the opportunities I’m given in training,” O’Hara said.

O’Hara likes fixing engines, flying and diving. She currently lives on a sailboat.

To the little girl who considers following in her footsteps, she has some advice. Pick a field, she said, and love what you do.

“I’d also tell them to try as many things as possible. And just be curious about the world around them. Travel as much as you can. Try new clubs. Take classes if you’re interested in something,” O’Hara said.

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