Magazine article Black Enterprise

Mission Possible: Claudia Alexander Has High Hopes for the Future of the Space Program

Magazine article Black Enterprise

Mission Possible: Claudia Alexander Has High Hopes for the Future of the Space Program

Article excerpt

AS THE PROJECT MANAGER AND PROJECT SCIENTIST for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Claudia J. Alexander gets to mix business with pleasure. Whether she's intentionally crashing an unmanned spacecraft into Jupiter or representing the U.S. space program when traveling to Milan, Italy, or Madrid, Spain, it's all in a day's work.

Since 2002, Alexander, 47, has served in her current capacity at the 5,000-employee NASA research center, which focuses on unmanned space vehicles. There, Alexander heads up NASA's contribution to the international Rosetta mission, a European Space Agency-led unmanned space mission launched in 2004 to study the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Alexander believes the Rosetta mission represents this generation's attempt to explore an entirely new environment. The Rosetta spacecraft, which is set to arrive at the comet in 2014 at a speed of 75,000 miles per hour, consists of two main elements; the Rosetta space probe and the Philae lander. Scientists hope that data from the mission, named after the Rosetta Stone that helped unlock the secrets of ancient Egyptian writing, will help reveal conditions in the primordial solar system, before the planets formed.

"I represent NASA overseas on the Rosetta mission, which is headquartered in the Netherlands," says Alexander, who began her work on the project in 1998 and has successfully guided the NASA contribution to that mission through some hard financial times, including three cancellation reviews. …

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