Category Archives: space

Seattle’s place in new space

Seattle is seen as a hub or epicenter of the “new space” industry, so much so that the annual NewSpace conference produced by the Space Frontier Foundation came to the city for the first time last week. The conference attracted a who’s who of the industry for networking and discussion.

John Thornquist


One question tackled at the event was why Seattle? John Thornquist, director of the state Office of Aerospace, said the state has the four essential elements that the space industry needs:

  • Businesses and a highly skilled workforce in manufacturing, software, tech, engineering, and big data
  • A culture of entrepreneurship
  • Strong university education and research
  • Support of state leaders

“We’ve been on the forefront designing and building some of the most advanced, successful commercial and military aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles, and scientific exploration vehicles the world has ever known,” Thornquist said in welcoming remarks to the conference.

Panel: Why Seattle for new space

OK, but it’s his job to pump the state. A panel of space company leaders gave their reasons for choosing Seattle and Washington.

Fred Wilson


Fred Wilson, director of business development for Aerojet Rocketdyne, said the reason the company chose the Seattle area is simple. Its four founders were Boeing engineers who started the company in 1959.

“Boeing and the aerospace engineering pool that Boeing brought to the Seattle area was a key spawning ground for space companies,” Wilson said, adding that Aerojet Rocketdyne is now doing the same thing. “Having been in the Seattle area for close to 60 years, we’ve spawned off a lot of engineers to companies in the Seattle area.”

Jason Andrews


Jason Andrews, CEO of Spaceflight Industries, backed Thornquist up on his assessment, noting that space companies need great software, big data, and capital.

“Seattle is an epicenter for all three,” Andrews said. Combine that with the city’s other positives, and you have an easy choice.

“Seattle is a great place,” Andrews said. “It is unique here because of the visionary people and the pioneering culture that Seattle has had from the very beginning.”

Rob Meyerson


Rob Meyerson, president of Blue Origin, picked up on that concept as well.

“Space companies come here because so many companies before us have come and made this a really, really fantastic place, when you combine it with the natural resources around us,” Meyerson said. He also said the educational institutions are a good draw, from Raisbeck Aviation High School to the state’s universities.

“It’s a unique place, it’s a beautiful place to live, it’s a very, very intelligent community, a high rate of STEM education, a very literate group,” Meyerson said. “The infrastructure here is really well suited for what we want to do.”

Chris Lewicki


Chris Lewicki worked for NASA and the Jet Propulsion Lab in Southern California before moving north with the founding of Planetary Resources, of which he is president and CEO. He said Seattle was a conscious choice for the company; it’s ambition is mining asteroids, and that will take a while to develop.

“It’s going to take you two, three, four, five, ten—maybe longer—years to build a successful business in the space industry,” Lewicki said. “You’ve got to enjoy where you live, and Seattle is spectacular for that.”

The future of new space

Andrews of Spaceflight Industries said it’s hard to predict how the industry will evolve, as so many companies have different goals and objectives, from asteroid mining to satellite launching.

“The ultimate holy grail is about creating a permanent human presence in space; three of the companies leading that are here,” Andrews said, noting Space X, Blue Origin, and Vulcan Aerospace.

“Seattle is really at the beginning of its space growth curve,” he added. “Companies here are going to have other entrepreneurs that come, work for five years, and spawn off and create new businesses that fill niche markets around this ecosystem that we’re creating in Seattle.”

“The capital, the people, the resources, the attitude—Seattle is going to be on the map for a long time,” Andrews concluded.

Charles Beames


“The companies here are either a part of the revolution itself, or they’re enabling it in some fashion,” said Charles Beames, president of Vulcan Aerospace. “In terms of jobs, the biggest growth is actually going to be all of the new space startups that are highly innovative, that are going to survive, and they’re going to employ all kinds of people and grow new companies.”

“I don’t think you can constrain where the Seattle space economy and industry is going to go,” said Wilson of Aerojet Rocketdyne. “I think it’s going to be innovative and creative and it’s going to pop up in many different areas we don’t even realize right now.”

It turns out, then, that Washington’s aerospace director Thornquist, and everyone else in the state, has good reason to be optimistic.

“New space has come to Washington,” Thornquist said, “and we’re more than ready for it.”


Juno set to answer big questions at Jupiter

Almost five years after it was launched, NASA’s Juno spacecraft will arrive at Jupiter on July 4, and Ron Hobbs is pretty excited about it. Hobbs, a Seattle-based NASA Solar System Ambassador, recently learned the inside scoop about the Juno mission during a teleconference with the mission’s principal investigator, Dr. Scott Bolton, who is the associate vice president for the space science and engineering division at the Southwest Research Institute.

Juno at Jupiter

Artist concept of Juno at Jupiter. Image: NASA/JPL.

“The Juno mission is about reverse-engineering the recipe of the soup that is our solar system,” Hobbs said. He noted that the Sun contains the vast majority of the mass in the solar system. After the Sun was born, Jupiter formed next, and it weighs two-and-a-half times more than everything else—the rest of the planets, comets, asteroids, the works.

Juno has four main scientific objectives, according to Hobbs: figuring out what’s at Jupiter’s core, studying the planet’s atmosphere and magnetosphere, and figuring out where its water came from.


Ron Hobbs

NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador Ron Hobbs. Photo: Greg Scheiderer.

“The present theories about the solar system origin and evolution do not explain how Jupiter was enriched in heavy elements,” Hobbs said, noting that, in astronomical terms, anything above hydrogen or helium is considered heavy. “The key to understanding how the giant planets form, and then how the rest of the planets form, and how other planetary systems form is really the key to how those heavy elements got into Jupiter.”

Hobbs noted that the Galileo mission in 1995 sent a probe into Jupiter in search of water but didn’t find much. Scientists speculate they may have just gotten unlucky, and hit a sort of Sahara Desert area of Jupiter. Juno will avoid that problem by using antennas to measure microwave radiation from Jupiter; we’ll be able to tell how much water is there by how much energy is absorbed. It’s a lot less costly than probes and we’ll be able to get measurements from all over Jupiter and to greater depths.


Juno will answer questions about Jupiter’s most visible features as it studies the Jovian atmosphere.

“It’s going to be able to get atmospheric composition, temperature, cloud opacity and dynamics to depths greater than 100 bars at all latitudes,” Hobbs said. “We’re really going to start to understand what those belts and zones that we see here from Earth are composed of.”


“Jupiter has a huge magnetosphere, and there’s still some uncertainty about how it formed,” Hobbs noted. Like Earth’s Van Allen Belts, there’s a lot of radiation trapped there.

“They’re so intense at Jupiter that any spacecraft going into them is in danger of having its electronics fried,” Hobbs said. “Humans, living things, would never survive; the radiation levels are just incredible.”

Juno will make polar orbits around Jupiter. Previous missions have taken equatorial orbits. Hobbs said the polar orbit will help the craft avoid intense radiation, and will create some great imaging opportunities.

“We know that Jupiter has incredible aurorae, but they’ve never been seen up close,” Hobbs said. “In polar orbit Juno is going to be able to get close-up views.”

Gravity science

Jupiter is known as a “gas giant,” but scientists believe it has a metallic core of really heavy elements: iron, nickel, silicon and the like. They don’t know for sure.

“The gravity science that Juno will do will answer that question, will tell us the interior structure,” Hobbs explained.

Juno will study the interior of Jupiter by mapping both its gravitational and magnetic fields. Hobbs said scientists expect to find metallic hydrogen.

“We believe that at some point down in this giant body hydrogen is under so much pressure that it becomes a metal,” Hobbs said. “We believe there’s a whole ocean, if you will, or mantle of metallic hydrogen.”

About Juno

Hobbs said Juno is the second mission of NASA’s New Frontiers program. New Horizons, which flew past Pluto last summer, was the first.

“New Frontiers is a follow-on to the Discovery program, where NASA basically funds investigator-led missions,” Hobbs said. “The Discovery missions are all low-cost missions, largely to the inner solar system, but there were enough targets of opportunity that they saw the need for an expanded program.”

Juno will make 33 orbits of Jupiter, each taking about two weeks. It will get within 5,000 kilometers of its cloud tops. The electronics are protected from radiation inside a 200-kilogram titanium vault. The craft is powered by huge solar panels that are about 80 feet across as the craft spins. It will be the furthest we’ve sent a solar-powered spacecraft.

Juno Cam

Junocam photo of Earth

This image of Earth was taken during the close flyby of NASA’s Juno spacecraft on October 9, 2013. The coastline of Argentina is at the upper left, and clouds cover much of Antarctica at bottom. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Juno will be spinning, which makes photography a challenge. But we love our space images, and Hobbs said the craft carries the Juno Cam to grab photographs, though it’s not considered to be an official scientific instrument. Still, it took some great images of Earth during a gravity-assist fly-by in 2013. Hobbs said Juno Cam is naturally outside the titanium vault, which will leave it exposed to radiation.

“I’m looking forward to getting those pictures taken and down here on Earth early on in the mission, because I have a feeling it’s going to be one of the first things that gets fried,” he said.

Hobbs is looking forward to getting data from Juno starting next month.

“It’s a cool mission and it’s answering some really fundamental questions,” he said. “We’re going to learn a lot about our place in the universe once again.”

Podcast of our conversation with Ron Hobbs:


Cool vintage space and sci-fi art at Pivot Art + Culture

Some of the most visionary space and science fiction art from the 1950s and ‘60s is on display at Pivot Art + Culture. The exhibit, Imagined Futures: Science Fiction, Art, and Artifacts from the Paul G. Allen Family Collection, will be on view through July 10 at the gallery on the ground level of the Allen Institute Building on Westlake Avenue in the South Lake Union neighborhood of Seattle.

Even if you didn’t grow up in the decades before the exploration of space became a reality, you’ve probably seen a lot of these pieces, which were featured in such magazines as Colliers, The Week, and Life, and often graced the covers of sci-fi books of the time.

The exhibit relies heavily on the works of two giants of the genre, Chesley Bonestell and Fred Freeman, but also features the works of more than two dozen artists from both the early decades and more recent times. Bonestell and Freeman weren’t entirely making up their images. Both worked closely with Wernher von Braun, who had significant input into the future of space and rocketry, and one of the great aspects of the exhibit is that it includes some preliminary artist sketches of the works with handwritten commentary from von Braun.

Separation of the Third Stage

Separation of the Third Stage of the Manned Ferry Rocket 40 Miles Above the Pacific Ocean, a 1952 painting by Chesley Bonestell, is part of the Imagined Futures exhibit on display at Pivot Art + Culture in Seattle. Photo: Greg Scheiderer.

One of the most iconic pieces in the exhibit is Bonestell’s Separation of the Third Stage of the Manned Ferry Rocket 40 Miles Above the Pacific Ocean, painted in 1952. It’s likely a familiar image to many space cadets. It was used on the posters advertising the exhibit, and was first used as a cover for the series, “Man Will Conquer Space Soon,” published by Colliers in March 1953. While the painting is not precisely prescient, von Braun’s notion of a multi-stage launch vehicle eventually became a reality as the Saturn V, and the reusable space plane was a precursor of the space shuttle. The exhibit includes not just the painting and the sketches that informed it, but a 1:48 scale model of the space vehicle that was produced for a 1955 Disney show Man and the Moon as well.

Movies and TV are represented in the exhibit, which includes vintage movie posters from Destination Moon and War of the Worlds, MGM stills from 2001: A Space Odyssey, and a model of the agridome that was used in the film Silent Running as well as in the original 1970s version of the television series Battlestar Gallactica.

With a lot of cool stuff in the gallery, one piece does its darndest to grab all of the attention. That is a huge charcoal sketch of Saturn by Robert Longo that is around five feet tall and ten feet wide.

The exhibit also features an X-15 engine and an IBM System 360 computer.

The exhibit is open from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, and stays open until 8 p.m. on Thursdays. Admission is just $5. Curator Ben Heywood leads tours of the exhibit beginning at 12:30 p.m. on Wednesdays. It’s cool stuff and well worth a look for space and sci-fi buffs.

Our Flickr slideshow from the exhibit:


Sending SHAMU to look for alien life

Researchers want to send SHAMU into space to search for alien life. SHAMU in this case is not an orca, but a Submersible Holographic Astrobiology Microscope with Ultraresolution. Caltech and the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab are leading the development of the device, with collaboration from the University of Washington on microbiology and oceanography aspects of the project. Max Showalter, a UW graduate student in oceanography and astrobiology, gave an interesting talk about SHAMU Monday at Town Hall Seattle. The talk was titled, “Finding Life When the Trail Goes Cold.”

Max Showalter

Max Showalter.

The target for the hunt for alien life is Jupiter’s moon Europa, which has a global ocean.

“That’s really significant when we’re looking for life in our solar system and outer space in general, because everywhere that we’ve found water on Earth we’ve found life, usually in the microbial form,” Showalter explained. The big challenge is that Europa is, on average, about 390 million miles away.

“Since it’s so far from the Sun, it’s really cold on Europa, and it has this crust of frozen ocean on top of it, kind of like our own Arctic Ocean, for example, except it’s eight kilometers thick,” Showalter said. “The question is, when we get to Europa, how do we get through that ice, or can we find a sample of life in that ice?”

You may think that ice is inhospitable, but Showalter said that a lot of things live in arctic ice. Algae have been found in deep cores of ice; enough sunlight can get through to drive photosynthesis. Algae and bacteria can live in brine veins, pockets of salt water within the ice.

This is where SHAMU comes in. The microscope creates a hologram to look for bacteria swimming in an icy water sample. It uses a laser beam split into two parts. One part serves as the control or reference part, the other is able to track changes within the sample.

SHAMU in Greenland

SHAMU at work in Greenland. Photo: Caltech.

“You bring those together in the computer and you reconstruct the image and get this 3-D image of what’s going on in this microscope,” Showalter said. “You can think of it as this tiny little cube of liquid that we can now see bacteria swimming around in.”

Showalter pointed out that we can be fooled by fossils, so being able to track something in motion is a key to detecting life.

“That’s an unambiguous biosignature,” he said, but added that multiple converging lines of evidence are needed in order to declare the detection of life. It’s good to see motion, but chemical experiments revealing organics would really be helpful, too.

They’ve tested SHAMU in the lab and found that they could track bacteria swimming around in water as cold as eight degrees fahrenheit; colder than that and the activity pretty much shuts down. Last spring Showalter was part of a team that did a field test of SHAMU in Nuuk, Greenland and they were successful there, too. Ultimately they’d like to take the microscope off planet, and Showalter said Europa would be a great target.

“What’s expecially unique about Europa is that in addition to this icy crust it has geysers on the surface, and these geysers are coming from local hot spots inside the ocean and thinner spots in this icy crust,” he said. This is a big advantage for designing a mission.

“Now we don’t have to worry about drilling through the ice; water is coming to us,” Showalter said. “If we can fly through that and take a sample of that plume, that’s ocean water right there in our hands.”

Europa is not the only place where SHAMU could come in handy. Enceladus, a moon of Saturn, is similar to Europa in that it, too, has an ice-crusted ocean with water geysers. Mars has been found to have some liquid water.

“There are lots of opportunities for us to use this microscope in outer space in addition to places on Earth,” Showalter said. “Hopefully the smallest organisms alive will help us be able to find the answer to one of the biggest questions of humankind: are we alone in the solar system?”


Astronaut talk, Astronomy on Tap this week

We’ll hear from South Korea’s first astronaut this week and celebrate the first birthday of Astronomy on Tap Seattle.

Astronaut Soyeon Yi

soyeonyi_calendarSoyeon Yi became South Korea’s first astronaut when she flew with a Russian crew on Soyuz to the International Space Station in 2008. Yi, who retired from the astronaut business in 2014 and now lives in Puyallup, will give a talk at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 26 at the Museum of Flight. Yi’s appearance is part of the museum’s annual Women Fly! event for junior- and senior-high girls who are interested in aviation and aerospace careers.

Happy birthday to Astronomy on Tap Seattle

AOT Seattle March 23In March 2015 Astronomy on Tap Seattle started bringing us beer and astronomy on a monthly basis. They’ll celebrate a year in business with a big bash at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 23 at Bad Jimmy’s Brewing Company in Ballard. A handful of mini-talks will highlight astronomical discoveries and advances of the past year. You’ll also be able to buy a special Astronomy on Tap Seattle beer glass and fill it with deluxe, barrel-aged Big Sipper, an imperial Scotch ale that was named by popular vote of AoT participants. Check out our article and podcast from earlier this month about Astronomy on Tap Seattle’s first year.

Rose City

The Rose City Astronomers will hold their monthly meeting at 7:30 p.m. Monday, March 21 at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry in Portland. Prof. James Schombert of the University of Oregon will take on the question of whether the universe is infinite, and how the latest observations are helping find answers.

LIGO lecture

A century after Einstein predicted gravitational waves, scientists with LIGO found them. Dr. Muzammil A. Arain, one of the authors of the paper that announced the discovery, will give a lecture at 6:30 p.m. Monday, March 21 at Building 27 on the Microsoft campus in Redmond. The talk will cover the science behind the LIGO detectors, the basics of gravitational waves, and the data processing techniques employed by LIGO that enabled gravitational wave detection. Registration is $5 and can be done online.

Art on the Moon

NASA photo.

NASA photo.

The Giant Steps art exhibition and contest continues Saturday and Sunday at Seattle’s King Street Station, where it will be open from noon until 6 p.m. both days. The event challenged students, artists, engineers, architects, designers, and other space enthusiasts to imagine and propose art projects on the surface of the Moon. Their submissions will be on display at the station weekends through April 3. Admission is $10.


Up in the sky

Jupiter is just two weeks past opposition and well placed for viewing these days. The King of Planets will pass close to the Moon on Tuesday. The Sky This Week from Astronomy magazine and This Week’s Sky at a Glance from Sky & Telescope have other observing highlights for the week.




Seattle’s place in the future of space

Some of the top thinkers about the future of space visited Seattle this week as part of the U.S.-Japan Space Forum. The forum, supported by the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation and the Japan-United States Friendship Commission, is a standing committee of policy experts who meet regularly to sort out the challenges and opportunities for the two countries and more. The group had two days of private meetings in town, followed by a public symposium Wednesday at the Museum of Flight. Saadia Pekkanen, a professor at the Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington and a co-chair of the forum, said there was good reason to bring the discussion to Seattle.

Saadia Pekkanen

Saadia Pekkanen is a UW professor and co-chair of the U.S.-Japan Space Forum. She moderated a panel discussion Wednesday at the Museum of Flight. Photo: Greg Scheiderer.

“Seattle is in many ways the new hub for space policy, bringing together a combination of billionaire interest, technical workforce talents, and also shared passion on the part of educational institutions like the Museum of Flight to take and advance our understanding of space,” Pekkanen said. She added that space is no longer dominated just by governments, and that the list of important partners includes longtime contractors such as Boeing and all of the newcomers in commercial space as well.

“We are also dealing with a world that is no longer just dominated by Western players,” Pekkanen said. “The most ambitious space players, I would say, are actually found in Asia—not only ambitious but also very competent.”

With so many countries and companies getting into the space business we have to examine our old assumptions.

“We can no longer take the rules of the game—the normative, the legal, the policy, and the regulatory frameworks that have really shaped global space affairs—for granted,” Pekkanen said. Shaping that discussion, she said, is a big part of what the U.S.-Japan Forum is all about.

Security challenges


Hiroshi Yamakawa, professor from Kyoto University. Photo: Greg Scheiderer.

Roy Kamphausen, the vice president of the National Bureau of Asian Research, spelled out six challenges for space and security in the Asia-Pacific region. These include China’s space expansion, conflict with North Korea, the evolving and complex relationship between China and Russia, Southeast Asia’s reluctance to act on military and security questions, and changing priorities and resources for the United States and Japan.

Hiroshi Yamakawa, a professor from Kyoto University, noted that space debris and possible threats to assets in space also present challenges. Yamakawa presented a history of collaboration in space between the U.S. and Japan, which he said goes back more than 50 years.

“It’s a very long and sustainable cooperation since the beginning of the space age,” Yamakawa said, noting Japan had recently extended its commitment to work with the International Space Station until at least 2024. “I hope that this cooperation will last at least until 3016.”

Collaboration in space

Collaboration in space comes down to pretty practical matters. For one, few countries have the funds to go it alone in space any more.

Ron Lopez

Ron Lopez of Boeing. Photo: Greg Scheiderer.

“This backdrop of real threats, favorable policy environment, and budgetary constraints creates an environment that necessitates greater collaboration in space and defense,” said Ron Lopez, director of Asia-Pacific business development for Boeing. “We’re talking about the bringing together of superior technologies with skills and know-how to develop value-added, cost-effective solutions.”

“The purpose of collaboration is really to do more with less,” Lopez added.

Collaboration is not a new idea. Shoichiro Asada of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries pointed out that U.S. and Japanese companies have already worked together on missile defense systems, jet fighters and engines, and other systems.


Shoichiro Asada of MHI. Photo: Greg Scheiderer.

Shoichiro Asada of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. Photo: Greg Scheiderer.

“Until now, industries in the U.S. and Japan have had a good relationship in space and defense,” Asada said. He had five suggestions about how that could be made even more productive. These include promotion of collaboration between governments and of an open-door policy for government procurement, harmonizing of procurement rules and of requirements and specifications for projects, and standardizing parts, which he admits can be a challenge when few of certain items are produced.

John Mittleman, expert on maritime domain awareness with the U.S. Naval Research Lab, gave an interesting presentation about the huge quantities of data available, especially from small satellites. We can pinpoint practically every ship at sea as we work on security considerations. Information about what is happening on the oceans can also inform us about other challenges, such as resource issues, energy, and climate change. There’s so much data that Mittleman says machines are going to have to do a lot of the heavy thinking.

John Mittleman

John Mittleman of the Navy Research Lab. Photo: Greg Scheiderer.

“Machine learning embedded in big-data analytics will rival human all-source analysis, with one important distinction: the volume of information they can handle will far surpass the speed and capacity of the world’s entire corps of intelligence analysts,” Mittleman said. “Very useful information can be pulled from massive troves of data, whether the data comes form satellites, drones, every car on the highway, every smart phone in your pocket, or anywhere else.”

Can computers really think and understand? Mittleman said the premise of the 2015 film Ex Machina is not all that far-fetched.

“Machine learning can and does discover very complex relationships, hidden relationships, that look an awful lot like human intuition,” he said. “We’re beginning to see real, live, effective understanding coming from the conjunction of persistent, multi-source data with high-speed, high-volume data analytics.”

There’s a fascinating and important future ahead in space, and Seattle people and companies will have a big part to play.


Astronaut Wilson blazing trails to space

It’s interesting that so many people involved in space and astronomy can point to a particular moment when they became interested in the field as a career. For astronaut Stephanie Wilson it happened when she was about 13 years old.

Stephanie Wilson

Astronaut Stephanie Wilson spoke about her inspiration for pursuing a career in aerospace during a talk to participants in the Michael P. Anderson Memorial Aerospace Program Saturday at the Museum of Flight. Photo: Greg Scheiderer.

“I was given a school assignment to interview somebody who worked in an interesting career field,” Wilson recalled. “I was interested in astronomy at the time, so I interviewed an astronomy professor at Williams College.”

Wilson said she was fascinated by the opportunities to travel, do research, and teach to which a career in astronomy might lead.

“That was my first interest in space and my introduction to science,” Wilson said.

Wilson spoke Saturday at the Museum of Flight in a presentation to the Michael P. Anderson Memorial Aerospace Program. The program, named after the Washington-native astronaut who died in the space shuttle Columbia tragedy in 2003, aims to provide inspiration and role models for students who are underrepresented in aerospace.

“It really started a thought process about what other opportunities were available and what were some other ways that I could function in aerospace,” Wilson said of her talk with the astronomy professor. “I also had an inerest in working with my hands and understanding how devices are put together, so I did decide to study engineering in college.”

Statue of Mike Anderson

This statue of astronaut Michael P. Anderson is outside the Museum of Flight in Seattle. Photo: Greg Scheiderer.

She earned degrees in engineering science at Harvard and in aerospace engineering at the University of Texas. Wilson held jobs in structural dynamics, robotics, and spacecraft attitude control before becoming part of the astronaut class of 1996. She was the second African-American woman to fly in space, going on three shuttle missions to the International Space Station. During her presentation Wilson showed video of highlights of her STS-131 mission in 2010. She has logged 42 days in space, and hopes to go again. She said she’d especially enjoy a longer mission during which she could spend six months on the ISS.

Michael Anderson was part of the 1995 astronaut class, and Wilson met and flew with him during her early days with NASA. She said that gives her some extra affinity for his namesake aerospace program’s goals.

“I really hope that people see that, as a woman and as an engineer, I tried to worked hard in that field, I did the best that I could to advance those fields,” Wilson said. “I also hope that people see that I tried to make a path so that people could follow in those footsteps and continue on their work. I hope that young people will see that anything is possible.”