Cambridge University alumni on track to be first women on the moon
Two Cambridge University alumni are set to graduate from NASA’s Artemis program, which is expected to land the first woman and the next man on the moon by 2024.
The pair will be in the first class of astronaut candidates to graduate from the programme at the agency’s Johnson Space Centre in Houston on Friday, January 10.
After completing more than two years of basic training, these candidates will become eligible for space flight, including assignments to the International Space Station, Artemis missions to the moon, and ultimately, missions to Mars.
Dr Jenni Sidey-Gibbons, who is also a Canadian astronaut, is set to graduate alongside 11 NASA candidates, as well as a fellow Canadian Space Agency (CSA) candidate, selected in 2017.
A former lecturer in internal combustion engines at the University of Cambridge, she was one of the Department of Engineering’s ambassadors for engineering diversity.
Jenni helped form Cambridge Robogals in 2014, an international, not-for-profit, student-run organisation that aims to increase female participation in science, technology, engineering and maths.
She hails from Calgary, Alberta, and holds an honours bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from McGill University in Montreal and a doctorate in engineering from the University of Cambridge.
With the completion of basic training, Jenni becomes officially eligible for space flight.
Canada is a proud partner in the US-led Gateway, the next major international collaboration in human space exploration, and part of the NASA Artemis program.
Being a partner in the Gateway mission opens flight opportunities for Canadian astronauts beyond the ISS. But exactly how many and how often is yet be decided.
Jenni said previously: “It just provides so many opportunities for humankind, science and exploration.”
Also set to graduate is University of Cambridge graduate and NASA candidate Kayla Barron, a US Navy lieutenant, originally from Richland, Washington.
She graduated from the US Naval Academy with a bachelor’s degree in systems engineering.
A Gates Cambridge Scholar, Kayla earned a master’s degree in nuclear engineering from the University of Cambridge.
As a submarine warfare officer, she served aboard the USS Maine, completing three strategic deterrent patrols. She came to NASA from the US Naval Academy, where she was serving as the flag aide to the superintendent.
The NASA candidates were chosen from a record-setting pool of more than 18,000 applicants. The CSA candidates have been training alongside their NASA classmates.