Maj. Tilghman Rittenhouse of the U.S. Air Force, 36, the son of Sara Rittenhouse of Pine, is among the candidates NASA is considering for mission specialist.
NASA will now select a group of applicants and nominees for a further interview and to compete for the astronaut positions.
Mrs. Rittenhouse and her family have had property in the Rim area since 1984. She had made her home in Pine for the past eight years and moved to Payson in October 2007.
"My son has been visiting Pine and the Rim Country since he was 12," Mrs. Rittenhouse said.
Maj. Rittenhouse graduated from Independence High School in Glendale, and was nominated by Sen. John McCain and Rep. Bob Stump to attend the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.
After graduating from the academy with a degree in material science engineering, he was selected by the Air Force to attend Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he received a master's degree in material science engineering.
He was then selected by the Air Force to attend the University of Illinois where he obtained his doctorate in chemistry.
Upon being awarded his doctorate, Maj. Rittenhouse was assigned to work in anti-terrorism, Mrs. Rittenhouse said.
Among his other assignments: work on a chemical laser with Phillips Laboratory in Albuquerque, N.M., while stationed at Kirkland Air Force Base; teaching chemistry at the Air Force Academy; and a deployment to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for six months in 2006.
Maj. Rittenhouse and his wife, Isabelle, are expecting their first child in July. They will soon be moving from Patrick Air Force Base in Cocoa Beach, Fla. to Belvoir Army Base in Virginia.
Mrs. Rittenhouse will be helping her son, daughter-in-law and new grandchild make the move, she said.