It’s National Moon Day!

And other things you need to know about space and women working in the field…

by Christine Maida

July 20 is National Moon Day

Margaret Hamilton
Margaret Hamilton

National Moon day commemorates Neil Armstrong’s first walk on the moon back in 1969! While this is not yet a federally recognized holiday, the space community still celebrates the great accomplishment and milestone in the history of technology.

Although the Apollo mission was manned by an all-male crew, there were a number of women behind the scenes that received recognition for exceptional work on the mission. Margaret Hamilton was one of the women who received that recognition. She worked on the MIT team that was heavily involved with developing the on board spacecraft software. Margaret received Exceptional Space Act Award for her work on the Apollo 11 mission.

Juno has reached Jupiter

Juno was launched August 5, 2011 and traveled 1.8 billion miles before finally reaching Jupiter July 4, 2016! Juno is only the second spacecraft ever designed specifically for studying Jupiter. After traveling all that way, Juno now holds the record for being the most distant solar powered spacecraft. Juno does not start collecting data until late August, when the probe falls beneath the thick dust cloud that surrounds the planet. Juno’s in orbit mission will continue until February 2018.

Check out mission control’s reaction to Juno entering Jupiter’s orbit after 5 years of flight.

Juno’s Deputy Chief Engineering Officer stationed at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) in Pasadena California is a woman, Tracy Drain! Tracy has worked at NASA for over 15 years and had a hand in the mission planning and software programming of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.  To learn more about Tracy and other female role models, visit here.

Space Launch System (SLS) Booster Test
Space Launch System (SLS) booster test

NASA finished testing on SLS

In late June NASA had a successful second test of the boosters that will be part of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS). Below you can see a picture of the booster during its two minute burn. The inside of the booster reached 6,000 degrees Fahrenheit and produced 3.6 million pounds of thrust! Once testing is complete, it will be built into rockets designed for deep space exploration, including the mission to Mars.

The SLS/Orion launch director was also just announced earlier this year. Charlie Blackwell-Thompson is a seasoned spaceflight engineer and will be the FIRST woman to ever oversee a NASA lift-off and launch! She will be in charge of making sure the rocket is ready for launch and will be at the head of mission control on launch day.