It was the first time in 50 years that an astronaut candidate has resigned. The last time a NASA astronaut candidate resigned was in 1968. A native of Alaska, Kulin and his classmates were selected from more than 18,300 applicants, and publicly introduced last year at Johnson Space Center in Houston by Vice President Mike Pence. He holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Denver and a masters and doctorate in engineering from the University of California, San Diego. Kulin had previously worked as a commercial fisherman in Alaska and as a technician drilling ice cores in Antarctica to support climate research.
“My whole goal coming out of that, and I would say the team’s whole goal, was to make sure that the Falcon 9 was as reliable and successful as possible, for SpaceX’s commercial partners, but also of course very importantly for the crew that will fly on that vehicle,” he said last year. SpaceX did not comment on Kulin’s departure from NASA. The Agency has a list with 39 active astronauts eligible for flight assignments. SpaceX and Boeing are developing NASA’s first commercial crew capsules, due to launch within the next year.