Exceptional Women on A Lunar Mission

"The path from dreams to success does exist. May you have the vision to find it, the courage to get on to it, and the perseverance to follow it. Wishing you a great journey."

- Kalpana Chawla

The world celebrated International Women’s day this week, and March is dedicated to remembering the amazing women who changed history. From Valentina Tereshkova who was the first woman in space to Peggy Whitson who was the first woman to command the International Space Station twice, the women in the Space Industry are constantly breaking records. Now, a new generation, dubbed by NASA as The Artemis Generation, is continuing the legacy by gearing up to send the first woman and the next man to the Moon. These are the millennial women to watch:

Kellie Gerardi is a commercial aerospace and defense professional working with Project PoSSuM, an acclaimed suborbital research group. Their research includes evaluating commercial spacesuits, conducting bio-astronautics research in micro-gravity, and studying the relation of noctilucent clouds in the mesosphere to global climate change. Kellie is also a popular science communicator with hundreds of thousands of followers on social media and promotes citizen-science and women in STEM. She is the Director of The Explorers Club which promotes scientific exploration and field study, leads Special Projects for the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, and serves on the Defense Council for the Truman National Security Project. Her impressive contributions to the space industry also include her 2020 published book Not Necessarily Rocket Science: A Beginner's Guide To Life in the Space Age.

Emily Calandrelli is a professional speaker who presents topics like space exploration, scientific literacy, and gender equality in STEM. As an MIT student, she interned at NASA to design the simulation for the Phoenix Mars Lander’s soil experiments, researched the use of lasers to reduce harmful emissions from jet engines, and developed chemical detection sensors. She was the Chief Engineer on a mission at the Mars Desert Research Station and helped organizations use crowdsourcing to solve technical challenges at the Harvard NASA Tournament Lab. Emily also has an extensive media career. She became the host of Fox’s Xploration Station show in 2014 (for which she was nominated for an Emmy), has given 3 TEDx talks, and is a contributing writer at TechCrunch. After appearing several times on Netflix’s Bill Nye Saves the World, Emily started her own educational Netflix series called Emily’s Wonder Lab in 2020. She also wrote the Ada Lace book series to introduce children to science and technology. Emily is a candidate for the first private launch on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon.

Dr. Jessica Watkins is part of NASA’s 2017 astronaut class and is officially selected for the NASA Artemis Team. She is the sixth African-American female astronaut in NASA history and is eligible to become the first woman to walk on the Moon. Jessica went to Stanford University for her undergraduate degree and UCLA for her doctorate in geology where she studied Mars surface processes, the emplacement mechanisms of large landslides on Mars and Earth, spectral data analysis, and geological mapping. Her hobbies are playing rugby, coaching basketball, writing short stories, rock climbing, and flying planes.

Laura Forczyk is the owner of space consulting firm Astralytical that specializes in space science, industry, policy, and space career coaching services. She has researched astrophysics and planetary science at three NASA centers, flown two "Zero-G" campaigns, and earned NASTAR suborbital astronaut wings. She is a NASA Subject Matter Expert for planetary science missions. Earlier in her career, she was a scientific analyst for the nonprofit Center for the Advancement of Science in Space and facilitated over 50 experiments on the ISS to benefit life on Earth. She serves on the advisory boards for the Lifeboat Foundation and the Society of Women in Space Exploration. She wrote Rise of the Space Age Millennials to offer support, connection, and inspiration to anyone interested in joining the Space Industry.

These are just four ladies out of the hundreds of thousands of women and men who work tirelessly to explore the world beyond our planet. Each of their stories and accomplishments is an inspiration to the following generations who, no doubt, will be traveling to space on private ships and bringing home solutions and innovations that make Earth a better place to live in the coming decades.

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