Meet NASA's newest astronaut from Sugar Land

SUGAR LAND, Texas (KTRK) -- She's one of 12 astronaut candidates selected from over 18,000 applicants, and she grew up right here in the Houston area.

"I've wanted to be an astronaut since I was a little kid," said astronaut candidate Loral O'Hara.

O'Hara, 34, applied twice previously and was selected on her third attempt.

"Third time is the charm," she said.

She was born in Houston and raised in Sugar Land, attending Quail Valley Elementary, First Colony Middle School and Clements High School, according to Fort Bend ISD.

She remembers getting the science bug in 7th grade. She credits teacher Naomi Brown for helping ignite her passion and curiosity.

"When we see kids go out into the workforce and achieve magnificent things, and we maybe had a little bit to do with that, it's extremely gratifying," said Brown.

O'Hara's background is impressive: She's a research engineer with a bachelor's in aerospace and a master's in aeronautics and astronautics. She's a private pilot, a certified EMT and wilderness first responder.

She hopes this background might serve her and NASA well if she is selected one day to set foot on Mars.

"That's been something that I think we've all been dreaming out for ages, just stepping foot on another planet!" she said.

O'Hara and the 11 other astronaut candidates announced Wednesdayknow they have significant training ahead of them, but they're ready.

READ MORE: NASA picks 12 new astronauts from crush of applicants

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