Meet NASA’s Next-Generation Astronaut

Loral O’Hara

Purdue’s influence

In her quest for a constant human presence on the moon, O’Hara surely hopes to join the other 24 Purdue alumni who have taken that path to become astronauts, including the two who walked on the moon.

Global energy to return to the moon

How those challenges are being approached is what gives O’Hara optimism. The global community is on the cusp of a period reminiscent of the first big push for space exploration prior to 1969. The difference is the current and coming chapters of space exploration don’t carry the same implications as the Cold War and Space Race.

Back to the moon

O’Hara points to the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway as a perfect example. Proposed in 2017, this planned new space station will orbit the moon, and though the effort will be spearheaded by NASA, international partners and commercial players will contribute. In May, for instance, NASA announced that Maxar Technologies in Colorado has received the contract for the power and propulsion element, which is the first phase of the assembly timeline in 2022. Getting Gateway in place is central to the Artemis program, which aims to return humans — including the first woman — to the moon by 2024.

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Purdue College of Engineering

Purdue College of Engineering

Known as the “Cradle of Astronauts,” with a long list of pioneers includes Neil Armstrong and Amelia Earhart. Ranked Top 10 nationwide by USNWR.

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