HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — In NASA’s 62-year history, there have only been 100 flight directors.
Only 15 of them have been women, and now, the agency has its first South Asian female flight director.
After 12 years, Pooja Jesrani has seen a lot of changes, with even more changes on the way as their team works to put the first woman on the moon in the next four years.
“I used to have astronaut posters in my room because of my dad. He was so into it, and it trickled down on me,” said Jesrani.
From a space nerd who graduated from Clements High School in Sugar Land, to a wife and mother now directing the International Space Station, she’s become a flight director with a lot of responsibility.
She graduated from the University of Texas in Austin and started working for NASA soon afterward.
Jesrani is in charge of mission control not only at the Johnson Space Center, but she also partners with agencies around the world.
Earlier this month, Houston-area resident Christina Koch came home after 328 days, breaking the record for the longest spaceflight ever done by a woman and giving researchers a valuable look on the long-term effects of space on female bodies.
NASA’s biggest priority right now is its Artemis program, which is a mission to get the first woman and next man on the moon by 2024.
From there, the goal is Mars.
“To even think about how many planets we have in our solar system and our galaxy and sort of the whole universe. The fact that we as a human species have only gone to the moon, which is our closest celestial body, is kind of crazy to me,” Jesrani said. “To think about how much further there is for us to explore and move on to is inspiring.”