Indian American among Flight Directors to lead Mission Control at NASA

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2018 Class of Flight Directors: Allison Bolinger, Pooja Jesrani, Adi Boulos, Paul Konyha, Rebecca Wingfield, Marcos Flores. Photo Date: July 9, 2018. Location: Building 30s, WFCR. (Photographer: Robert Markowitz/NASA)

On July 10, NASA announced its 2018 class of flight directors, which includes an Indian American.

Pooja Jesrani will lead mission control for a variety of new operations at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas along with Marcos Flores, Allison Bolinger, Adi Boulos, Rebecca Wingfield and Paul Konyha.

Jesrani was born in England and came to the U.S. as a child.

She began interning with United Space Alliance before she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from The University of Texas at Austin in 2007.

While working with the alliance and NASA later on, Jesrani has supported the space station flight control team by managing the life support and motion control systems and has been a capsule communicator, speaking directly with astronauts who are in space.

Her recent work is to integrate mission operations for upcoming commercial crew flights.

According to a NASA press release, the new flight directors will begin extensive training on flight control, vehicle systems, operational leadership and risk management, before they can start their mission.

“This is an outstanding group of future tactical leaders for the Flight Operations Directorate. We are excited to have them come on board,” Brian Kelly, director of Flight Operations at Johnson, was quoted saying in the press release.

The group will join the current 26 active flight directors and they will have the opportunity to oversee a variety of human spaceflight missions involving the International Space Station, including integrating American-made commercial crew spacecraft into the fleet of vehicles servicing the orbiting laboratory, as well as Orion spacecraft missions to the Moon and beyond.

They will also head teams of flight controllers, research and engineering experts, and support personnel around the world and make the real-time decisions critical to keeping NASA astronauts safe in space.

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