(NEWSER) – More Americans than ever before believe they have the right stuff to become astronauts, ABC News reports. According to NASA, it received more than 18,300 applications for the astronaut class of 2017 over the past two months.

That's almost three times more than for the last class in 2012 and far more than the record 8,000 applications it received in 1978. “It’s not at all surprising to me that so many Americans from diverse backgrounds want to personally contribute to blazing the trail on our journey to Mars,” NASA administrator Charlie Bolden says. In addition to excitement about Mars, Ars Technica credits NASA's use of social media and the portrayal of astronauts in The Martian for the record number of applications.

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