Ellen Stofan noticed her first rocket launch when she was four years previous. Now, greater than 50 years later, she’s director of the National Air and Space Museum — the primary girl to carry the place.
Stofan, a former chief scientist at NASA, involves the place with greater than 25 years of discipline expertise. But earlier than all that, she was only a child who fell in love with science — particularly, with rocks.
“When I decided at age 9 or 10 that I wanted to be a geologist, everybody encouraged me,” Stofan informed NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly. “I think having that strong base of encouragement made me feel like a STEM career was possible.”
That encouragement got here simple in a household devoted to the sphere: Her dad was a NASA rocket scientist and her mother was a science instructor.
When she was 14, Stofan noticed astronomer Carl Sagan communicate on the launch of the Viking lander, which in 1976 was the primary U.S. spacecraft to efficiently land on Mars and ship photographs again to Earth. It was then that she determined to check greater rocks: planets.
“Carl Sagan started talking about why we were exploring Mars — the fact that Mars had this history of water; that potentially life could have evolved on Mars ,” Stofan remembers. “I heard that speech and thought, ‘that’s what I want to do.’ “
She did go on to do this, main NASA’s mission to ship people to the pink planet. Today she’s cost of the exhibit that shows a take a look at model of the Viking lander within the Air and Space Museum’s Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall in Washington, D.C.
Though Stofan is the primary girl to steer the museum, she insists that is not one thing she thinks about rather a lot.
“You want to normalize these things,” Stofan says. “On the other hand, I’ve spent my entire career being one of the few women in the room, and I understand the significance of being able to say that women are starting to take on these positions.”
Much of her focus as director, she says, will probably be on representing variety all through the historical past of aviation and area exploration, with a view to have extra of it sooner or later.
“One of the reasons that I’m so excited to come to the museum is to help tell the story that women have actually been involved in aviation and the space business from the beginning,” she says. “Telling stories of people of color, telling stories of women — to me, that’s what helps the next generation think, ‘oh, well maybe I could do that.’ “
She particularly hopes a few of these children will probably be a part of NASA’s mission to Mars. She says humankind not solely is simply many years away from sending individuals to its neighboring planet, it is also “on the verge of discovering life beyond Earth.”
“If we can inspire just one of those kids,” she says, “we will have succeeded.”
Alyssa Edes and Renita Jablonski produced and edited the audio story.