Two Cambridge alumni graduate from NASA astronaut class

They could be the first women on the moon

artemismission cambridgealumni nasa womeninstem

Lieutenant Kayla Barron and Dr Jennifer Sidey-Gibbons (known as Dr Jenni Sidey) graduated on the 10th of January from NASA's Artemis program, after completing over two years of basic training.

Lieutenant Kayla Baron matriculated at Peterhouse in 2011 and gained a Master's Degree in Nuclear Engineering from Cambridge, where she was a Gates Cambridge Scholar. Prior to this, she had studied at the U.S. Naval Academy, gaining a bachelor's degree in Systems Engineering.

Dr Jenni Sidey-Gibbons completed her PhD in Engineering in 2015, specialising in combustion. She matriculated at Jesus in 2011. After completing her PhD, she became an Engineering Fellow at St Catherine's, a role she still holds. She also lectured on Internal Combustion Engines.

They have both graduated from NASA's Artemis program, which means they are eligible to travel into space. Assignments they may be given include the International Space Station, missions to the Moon and maybe even Mars, according to NASA. The programme aims to land its first man and woman on the moon by 2024.

Barron is a NASA candidate as an American, whilst Sidey is a Canadian Space Agency astronaut, born in Calgary. The Canadians are collaborating with NASA on this project.

Their two years of training, in which they were part of a cohort of 13, included training in spacewalking, robotics, International Space Station systems, T-38 jet proficiency, and Russian language.

Out of the 12 people who have walked on the moon, all have been men and so the prospect of women finally reaching the moon is exciting. The last time someone walked on the moon was in 1972, as part of the Apollo 17 mission.

In an interview with the Cambridge Independent in April 2019, Dr Sidey said: “I would absolutely want to be the first woman on the moon. It just provides so many opportunities for humankind, science and exploration.
If anyone would like to send me to the moon, I would be happy to go."

Lieutenant Barron, upon being accepted into the program in 2017, said:"I’m really excited to be a part of NASA’s phenomenal team and to contribute in any way I can."

Photo credits: Nixinova