First Hispanics on Duty Leading Mission Control Team
Johnson Space Center, Houston
The first person of Hispanic heritage to lead Mission Control is working shifts as a flight director for the International Space Station at NASA's Johnson Space Center, Houston. Ginger Kerrick completed more than 700 hours of training and began active duty in September.
Fellow Hispanic flight director Richard Jones is in training. He will be the first Hispanic to lead space shuttle teams when flights resume.
Leading a team of flight controllers, support personnel and engineering experts, a flight director has the overall responsibility to manage and carry out shuttle flights and station expeditions. A flight director also leads and orchestrates planning and integration activities with flight controllers, payload customers, station partners and others.
Since the beginning of America’s space program, only 58 individuals have directed human spaceflight missions. The Flight Director Class of 2005 is the second largest ever appointed and the most diverse.
Kerrick earned both bachelor's and master’s degrees in physics from Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas. During her master's studies, she worked as a summer intern and a cooperative education student at Johnson. Her first permanent assignment was at Johnson in 1994 as a Materials Research Engineer. Kerrick was the first non-astronaut spacecraft communicator.
"Today’s students will be able to participate in a unique opportunity that we haven’t seen since the Apollo days," Kerrick said. "By the time they get out of college, we will be on our way to the moon and Mars. They will be able to do something really different than low-Earth orbit, which is fun, but not as dramatic as going beyond, including somewhere that we’ve never been before."
Jones is a summa cum laude graduate of Texas A&M University with a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering. He began his NASA career in 1988 at the Kennedy Space Center, Fla., as a cooperative education student in the Vehicle Engineering Directorate. After graduation in 1991, Jones joined Johnson as entry analyst in the Flight Design and Dynamics of the Mission Operations Directorate.
Jones said he is eager to face the challenges of being a flight director as NASA expands its scope of exploration. "It will be an honor to be sitting in the Flight Director seat and directing the operations that take us to the moon and beyond," he said.
NASA embraces diversity as a leadership philosophy and management practice. The agency is committed to advancing a workplace culture that promotes open communication and encourages new ideas and perspectives to achieve the Vision for Space Exploration.
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