• ChristinaKoch

    Christina H. Koch

    Bachelor of Science, Electrical Engineering; Bachelor of Science, Physics; Master of Science, Electrical Engineering, North Carolina State University

    Space Academy and Advance Space Academy 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996

    Five-time Space Camp graduate, Christian H. Koch is the fifth Space Camp alumna to fly in space. Christina launched to the International Space Station in March 2019 as a member of Expedition 59 and 60. She worked as an electrical engineer at Goddard Space Flight Center’s Laboratory for High Energy Physics before being selected as one of eight members of the 21st NASA Astronaut Class. She has worked in space science instrument development as well as serving as a research associate with the United States Antarctic Program. While board the ISS, she is expected to break the record for the longest single spaceflight for a woman.

  • bethmoses

    Beth Moses

    Bachelor of Science, Aerospace Engineering; Master of Science, Aerospace Engineering, Purdue University

    Adult Space Academy 1989

    Beth Moses’ trip to Adult Space Academy in 1989 included a memorable training session in the Underwater Astronaut Trainer. Then NASA-engineer turned best-selling author Homer Hickam was her trainer. Beth is now flying high as the Chief Astronaut Instructor and a commercial astronaut for Virgin Galactic, which is working to make commercial space travel a reality. Before joining Virgin Galactic, Beth was a senior engineer at NASA Johnson Space Center’s EVA Project Office. In her February 2019 flight aboard Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo Unity, Beth became the first woman to reach space aboard a commercially launched space vehicle and is the first woman to receive the Federal Aviation Association’s commercial astronaut wings.


  • Tara-Ruttley

    Dr. Tara Ruttley

    Dr. Tara Ruttley is an Associate Program Scientist for the International Space Station (ISS) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) at Johnson Space Center in Houston. Dr. Ruttley has a bachelor’s in Biology, a master’s in Mechanical Engineering, and a Ph.D. in Neuroscience. She began her career as an ISS biomedical engineer at NASA and now her role consists of representing and communicating all research on the space station. Dr. Ruttley has authored publications ranging from hardware design to neurological science and also holds a U.S. utility patent. Alongside her professional work, Dr. Ruttley is an active proponent of student development and diversity in STEM fields, and she lends her expertise and experience to several academic and non-profit boards.

  • Erika

    Dr. Erika Wagner

    Dr. Erika Wagner serves as Payload Sales Director for Blue Origin, supporting the development of technologies to enable human access to space at lower cost and increased reliability. Prior to joining Blue Origin, Dr. Wagner worked with the X PRIZE Foundation as Senior Director of Exploration Prize Development and founding Executive Director of the X PRIZE Lab@MIT. Previously, she served at MIT as Science Director and Executive Director of the Mars Gravity Biosatellite Program, a multi-university spacecraft development initiative. Her academic background includes a bachelor’s in Biomedical Engineering from Vanderbilt University, a master’s in Aeronautics & Astronautics from MIT, and a Ph.D. in Bioastronautics from the Harvard/MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology. She is also an alumna of the International Space University.

  • Noble

    Dr. Sarah Noble

    Dr. Sarah Noble is a Program Scientist in the Planetary Sciences Division at NASA HQ. Her science research focuses on understanding how soil develops on airless bodies, like the moon and asteroids, and her responsibilities at HQ includes serving as Program Scientist for the upcoming Psyche mission and the SSERVI institute. She earned her B.S. in Geology from the University of Minnesota and her Ph.D. in Geological Sciences from Brown University. Dr. Noble’s career includes stints at several NASA centers, including Johnson Space Center, Goddard Space Flight Center and Marshall Space Flight Center. In her spare time, Dr. Noble creates space-inspired art, pieces of which have been shown at several Washington, D.C. art galleries and events. In honor of her scientific and outreach efforts, Asteroid 133432 Sarahnoble now bears her name.

  • Sweeney

    1st Lt. Tara Sweeney (USAF, Retired)

    Tara Sweeney leads a technology test and evaluation company, focused on operations in austere and hazardous environments for national defense, homeland security and intelligence community projects. She has significant experience with technological development and operational security programs for public and private organizations. Tara served as a United States Air Force Special Operations Command Officer. She has pursued military and civilian aviation, including as a glider and single-engine aircraft pilot, a helicopter maintenance officer, and as a parabolic flight coach and flight attendant. Tara has accumulated approximately five hours in microgravity while conducting research experiments and training participants how to experience reduced gravity. She enjoys public speaking, inspiring children and adults to see the wonder of space exploration and the importance of the STEM fields that make it possible. Tara holds degrees from the United States Air Force Academy, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Regis University.


  • Chancellor

    Dr. Serena Auñón

    The George Washington University, B.S.
    University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, M.P.H
    University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, M.D.

    Dr. Serena Auñón-Chancellor’s Space Camp mission position as medical officer was prophetic. Fast forward 25 years, and Serena will be launching on a Soyuz rocket as a member of Expedition 58/59 to the International Space Station. Space Camp was more than a much-desired 16th birthday gift for Serena. It confirmed what she thought she already knew. She was going to be an astronaut. “I felt very confident walking out after that week,” she said. “It reaffirmed what I wanted to become.” Serena holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from The George Washington University and attended medical school at the University of Texas – Health Science Center at Houston. She is board certified in Internal and Aerospace Medicine and was a flight surgeon to both space shuttle and ISS astronauts before being selected for the 2009 Astronaut Class. In her own astronaut career, Serena has searched for meteorites in Antarctica and operated the Deep Worker submersible on the NEEMO 16 mission. She also served aboard the Aquarius underwater laboratory during the NEEMO 20 undersea exploration mission. She is scheduled to launch to the ISS in November 2018.

  • Christensen

    Dr. Michelle Christensen

    University of Alabama in Huntsville, B.S.
    Pennsylvania State University, Ph.D.

    If her little brother hadn’t gotten sick on a trip to Disney World,Dr. Michelle Christensen might not be building rocket engines for Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin. Her dad took 5-year-old Michelle to Kennedy Space Center for the day, and she remembers standing under a Redstone rocket and staring at the engine. She wanted to know how it worked. Her parents looked for every opportunity to encourage their daughter’s interests, and at 14, she flew across the country to Space Camp for the first time. “I remember getting to camp and meeting these kids from all over the world,” Michelle said. She had found her place. She came back in 11th grade and worked as a Space Camp crew trainer in college, which led her to transfer to the University of Alabama in Huntsville to study aerospace engineering. Through UAH, she got a research job at Marshall Space Flight Center and then went on to Pennsylvania State University for her Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering. Today, she’s at the cutting-edge of the commercial space industry helping build reusable rockets. She’s also found the same kind of teamwork environment she loved at Space Camp. “It’s being part of a group of people who were excited about the same thing I was excited about,” she said.

  • Hecker

    Major John Hecker

    B.A., Auburn University

    Major John Hecker’s career as a U.S. Marine Corps pilot started late, but it quickly took off. John was 29 when he got the call on Sept. 11, 2001, to report to Quantico for officer training. He had been told he was too old to join, but the terrorist attacks that day changed everything. John was soon learning to fly a C-130, the big, four-engine aircraft he would ultimately operate as part of the fabled Blue Angels squadron. His father’s U.S. Army career took John’s family in and out of Huntsville several times, and John spent many days of his childhood at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, first on nearly daily visits and later for Space Academy. “The U.S. Space & Rocket Center itself was a gigantic part of my childhood,” John said. In the Marines, he found the same kind of teamwork he remembered from Space Camp, and he revisited his team’s presenter role many times in the Blue Angels. In his three years on the squadron, he traveled almost 300 days a year, speaking to young people all over the country. His message was always to keep striving for what you want and to “recognize service to something greater yourself.” “It’s a great way to live your life,” he said.

  • Heldmann

    Dr. Jennifer Heldmann

    Colgate University, B.S.
    University of North Dakota, M.S.
    University of Colorado at Boulder, Ph.D.

    Dr. Jennifer Heldmann was in third grade when she looked through a telescope and saw the moon up close. This was an actual place with mountains and craters, and she was “blown away.” Jennifer has been looking up ever since. A planetary scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center, she is researching how we will one day live on the moon and Mars. Jennifer came to Space Camp her junior year in high school, a trip she still thanks her mom for making happen. “It was the first time I was surrounded by people like me,” she said. “I was in this place dedicated to space. It started to become a real thing.” Her work today takes her to hostile environments such as Antarctica to study water, and she works on space craft data, computer modeling and Earth analogs to help prepare for deep space flight. “It’s test before you fly, the Space Camp way,” Jen said. She has won many accolades in her career, including the NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Award and a NASA mentor award, but she counts the Space Camp Hall of Fame as her top achievement. “It’s like something that is instilled in your inner core of being since 10,” she said.