NASA astronaut to be featured in Veterans Day tribute on History – Houston Chronicle

Astronaut test pilot Jasmin Moghbeli’s road to the Marine Corps started in college.

The 37-year-old, who grew up on Long Island, was earning her bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology when she attended the Marines’ Officer Candidate School between her junior and senior year. Those 13 weeks served as the jump start to her military career.

Months after graduating from MIT, she was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps. That was 15 years ago.

While Veterans Day celebrates those who serve in the armed forces, Moghbeli believes the holiday represents more than that. She thanks the families who sacrifice to support their military spouse or child. Moghbeli is married to Samuel Wald, a San Antonio native. Her parents, Fereshteh and Kamy Moghbeli, live in Florida but are considering a move to Houston, she said.

“Families don’t get recognized as much, and they bear the brunt of it,” she said. “To my family and all the families, the loudest thank you is to all of you.”

Moghbeli’s journey from the Marines to NASA will be featured in the fourth annual Variety’s Salute to Service, a program presented by History (formerly History Channel) airing at 9 p.m. Nov. 11. She will also bea featured in an upcoming Voices Magnified, a short-form documentary series on A&E.

More Information

Variety’s Salute to Service

When: 9 p.m. Wednesday

Where: History, formerly the History Channel

Moghbeli’s first deployment was at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province. She later served aboard the USS Gloucester in the Middle East before her third deployment on the USS Bonhomme Richard near Japan.

As an active Marine, she worked as a covert pilot after finishing flight school. She flew the Bell AH-1 SuperCobra, the Marine Corps’ primary attack helicopter, during all three deployments.

Moghbeli worked as a Marine test pilot for four years after graduating from U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School. In this time, she also received her master’s degree in aerospace engineering from Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif.

Then NASA selected her to join the 2017 Astronaut Candidate Class. She reported for duty in August 2017, less than a week before Hurricane Harvey struck.

“Several people in my class ended up staying at my house because I didn’t have any flooding here in my neighborhood. As a class, we got really close,” she said.

Moghbeli and the rest of the 2017 class helped people muck out their homes after the storm. The group of astronauts-in-training worked for weeks by providing supplies, removing ruined drywall and insulation and laying the foundation for their neighbors to rebuild.

Though not a Houston native, Moghbeli felt the hurricane integrated her into the community quickly. “It was nice to see how many people were out helping each other,” she said.

Being a Marine helped Moghbeli transition to her career as an astronaut, thanks to her well-honed ability to operate in constantly-changing conditions by assessing and fixing stressful situations in real time. But more importantly, she said the Marines taught her soft skills and the importance of teamwork, which has proved to be critical in her role at NASA. Before she joined the Marines, she suffered from stage fright but the job helped her find a steady and confident voice.

“In so many ways, the Marine Corps has set me up for success here at NASA,” she said. Thirty-one out of 48 active astronauts are either retired from the military or remain on active-duty, according to NASA. Moghbeli remains on active-duty.

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