Rocket Women: Q&A with Mechanical Interface Systems Team Lead Notlim Burgos

During Women’s History Month, we reflect on the contributions of trailblazers at NASA who inspire the next generation of women. As we continue to celebrate women’s accomplishments, meet Notlim Burgos, Mechanical Interface Systems Team Lead for NASA’s Launch Services Program (LSP), based at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Burgos supports NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) Mission, which is the agency’s first planetary defense mission, and Landsat 9, the ninth Earth-observing satellite mission in the Landsat series. She was inspired from a young age to pursue STEM, leading to her 15-year career at NASA. Hear Burgos’ story and her advice for future generations.

Notlim Burgos was inspired from a young age to pursue STEM, leading to her 15-year career at NASA.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I love working alongside a range of amazing people who bring diverse expertise and perspectives, which provide a wide variety of solutions for the challenges that we face daily I learn something new from everybody every day. I enjoy having the opportunity to follow the spacecraft and the launch vehicles through the whole mission lifecycle.

Who inspires you most?

My family – especially my nieces and goddaughter. At a young age, they are demonstrating a special interest in STEM and space. One wants to be an astronaut and dreams of going to the Moon and to Mars. When I see their enthusiasm and think of the possibilities of what they can become, it inspires me to want to be the best role model that I can be. I want them to feel encouraged to follow their dreams and see the many career opportunities that women can pursue.

When did you first realize you had a passion for STEM?

I found my passion for STEM when I was in the ninth grade on an educational trip during which we visited Disney World and Kennedy. We got behind-the-scene tours where we met Disney “Imagineers,” the park’s engineers, who explained how they used the power of science to develop park attractions. That gave me a glance for the first time at how much you can do with STEM.

At Kennedy, I saw the Shuttle at Launch Pad 39A, and I was flabbergasted. We slept under the 363-foot Saturn V moon rocket at the Apollo/Saturn V Center. Also, we met astronaut Charles Duke, the youngest person to walk on the Moon. These experiences convinced me that traveling through space was possible. At that moment, I knew that I wanted to be part of NASA’s team to see how far we can reach. When I returned from the trip, I told my parents I wanted to be a NASA engineer!

What advice would you give to young girls considering a STEM career?

Challenge yourself and don’t be afraid of failure. Always be yourself, be passionate, and always do your best. You may face challenges that seem impossible to conquer, but believe that you can do anything that you set your mind to. After failing a math course early in engineering school, I told my dad I didn’t think engineering was for me. I will never forget my dad’s words. He said, “You knew engineering wasn’t going to be easy. Remember where you want to be – NASA! I know you can do it; you just need to study harder.”

I appreciated his kind words and unconditional support. I retook and passed the course the following semester, and I graduated engineering school with honors. The easy route was giving up; the hardest was facing the challenges with conviction in pursuit of my dreams. I will forever be grateful for my father’s encouragement during those challenging times.

What advice would you give someone who wants to work at NASA?

A common misconception is that NASA only hires STEM professionals. My advice is to research the different opportunities that NASA offers. There are opportunities for professionals with various levels of expertise and experience. Become familiar with the NASA centers, the Pathways Program, and usajobs.com. The Pathways Program offers opportunities to work at NASA while attending school, and through usajobs.com you can build your resume and apply for positions. Lastly, do not give up, be patient but persistent; you never know when you are going to receive that call for an interview.

What is your favorite part about working for NASA?

My favorite part is that I can leverage my experiences to mentor others. I owe part of my success to my mentors. It is important to me to share what I have learned so that others achieve their goals. There is nothing more rewarding than to see somebody succeed and see how they evolve into influential mentors for others. I also enjoy supporting educational outreach, which is a great platform to inspire others to pursue careers in STEM.

Rocket Women: Q&A with Diana Calero, Launch Vehicle Certification Manager

Diana Calero, of NASA’s Launch Services Program, works with emerging commercial space flight launch companies as they develop their launch vehicles. Photo credit: NASA

NASA’s Launch Services Program (LSP), based at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, is responsible for pairing the agency’s scientific and robotic missions with launch services from commercial partners. From launching Mars rovers to Earth-observing satellites, LSP has enabled exploration since 1998. As the nation celebrates Women’s History Month, get to know one woman making LSP missions possible.

With a career spanning 30 years, Diana Calero, launch vehicle certification manager, works with emerging commercial space flight launch companies as they develop their launch vehicles, such as Blue Origin’s New Glenn, ULA’s Vulcan, and SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy. Her responsibility as the certification manager is to work closely with these companies to assure their launch vehicles can be certified to launch future NASA payloads.

Additionally, Calero is working on the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) as the LSP mission manager. In this role, she is providing expertise to integrate and launch the telescope on a European Ariane 5 launch vehicle.

Diana Calero is working on the James Webb Space Telescope as the Launch Services Program mission manager. Photo credit: NASA/Tony Gray

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy being able to learn about the new launch vehicles that are being designed by private companies that will eventually provide NASA with more flexibility in accessing space. The highlight of my job, and what I have always enjoyed, is working with such a large group of diverse individuals from all over the world. This includes launch vehicle contractors, spacecraft customers and builders, inter-agency personnel, foreign governments and industry. I enjoy getting to know different people, their customs, and learning from them.

Who inspires you most?

I’m constantly being inspired with every mission we launch, knowing that I had a role to play with each success and, more importantly, that it helped advance technology and well-being in our world.

When did you first realize you had a passion for STEM?

As early as elementary school, science and math grasped my curiosity. I always wanted to know how and why things worked. It was not surprising that my favorite television show was Star Trek, where I envisioned myself on that spaceship exploring and learning.

What advice would you give to young girls considering a career in STEM?

Take as many challenging science and math classes as you can. Consider involvement in school clubs that work in STEM related activities, such as robotics. Be curious about everything, and ask lots of questions. Always know that you can do whatever you set your mind to, and don’t let anyone make you feel that you can’t.

What advice would you give someone who wants to work at NASA?

As early as high school, inquire within multiple technical companies about performing an internship. NASA has a great program that allows you to work for them while in school, and that can help steer you into the field you want to study.

What types of challenges have you faced in your career, and how have you overcome them?

The challenge that I enjoy over and over in my career is becoming part of a new team and helping it reach goals that were thought to be unachievable. The diverse teams that I have been fortunate to be a part of bring different personalities, backgrounds, culture, work experience, capabilities and ideas. Being able to discern these qualities and use them as strengths within the team have allowed them to be incredibly successful and bring about amazing results.

What is your favorite part about working for NASA?

Knowing that my work makes an impact in our nation’s pursuit of science exploration.

SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket Rolls to Pad with Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich

SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich rolls out to the launch pad.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite atop in its payload fairing rolls out to Space Launch Complex-4 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Nov. 20, 2020. Photo credit: SpaceX

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, with the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite inside the payload fairing, rolls to Space Launch Complex-4 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Nov. 20, 2020.

Stay tuned for launch coverage of the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite today here on the NASA blog, on NASA TV, and the agency’s website. Live coverage begins at 8:45 a.m. PST (11:45 a.m. EST).

Tune in Tomorrow for Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich Launch Coverage

Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich stickerTune in tomorrow, Nov. 21, for launch coverage of the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite here on the NASA blog, on NASA TV, and the agency’s website. Live coverage begins at 8:45 a.m. PST (11:45 a.m. EST). Rollout of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite was completed this afternoon.

Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich ‘Go’ For Launch, Prelaunch News Conference at 2 p.m. PST (5 p.m. EST)

The Sentinel-6 satellite in the SpaceX Falcon 9 payload fairing.
An animated image of the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite in the SpaceX Falcon 9 payload fairing at the launch pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Photo credit: NASA

Launch and mission managers have completed the Launch Readiness Review for the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich mission. At the conclusion of the review, NASA’s Launch Services Program, SpaceX, the European Space Agency (ESA), and NOAA agreed to target the launch for 9:17 PST (12:17 p.m. EST) on Saturday, Nov. 21, from Space Launch Complex 4 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

Currently, the 30th Space Wing weather forecast is 80% “go” for launch, with a 20% chance of violating weather constraints. The primary concern is ground winds of 20 knots at the time of launch.

A prelaunch news conference will be held at 2 p.m. PST (5 p.m. EST), live on NASA Television and the agency’s website. Participants are:

  • Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for Science Mission Directorate, NASA HQ
  • Johann-Dietrich Worner, Director-General, European Space Agency
  • Pierrik Vuilleumier, Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich project manager, ESA
  • Parag Vaze, Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich project manager, JPL
  • Tim Dunn, NASA Launch Director, Launch Services Program, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center
  • Julianna Scheiman, program manager, NASA Launch Services, SpaceX
  • Anthony Mastalir, commander, 30th Space Wing and Western Launch and Test Range
  • John Ott, weather officer, 30th Space Wing

NASA TV launch coverage will begin at 8:45 a.m. PST (11:45 a.m. EST) on Nov. 21. You can follow the countdown milestones here on the blog and on NASA Television.

Stay connected with the mission on social media, and let people know you’re following it on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram using the hashtag #SeeingTheSeas and tag these accounts:

Twitter: @NASA@NASAEarth@NASA_JPL@NASASocial@ESA@ESA_EO@EU_Commission@NOAA@CNES@Eumetsat@CopernicusEU@defis_eu  @SpaceX@NASA_LSP@NASA36030thSpaceWing
Facebook: NASANASA JPLNASA EarthNASA LSP30thSpaceWing
Instagram: NASANASAJPLNASAEarthVandenberg_AFB

Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich Launch Readiness Review, Televised Briefings on Tap Today

The Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich mission patch Today, launch and mission managers are holding the final major review, called the Launch Readiness Review, for the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich mission that will launch from Space Launch Complex 4 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Launch is targeted for 9:17 a.m. PST (12:17 p.m. EST) on Saturday, Nov. 21.

Coming up today at 12:30 p.m. PST (3:30 p.m. EST) is a science briefing, live on NASA Television and the agency’s website. Participants are:

  • Karen St. Germain, director, NASA Earth Science Division, NASA HQ
  • Josh Willis, Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich project scientist, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) (remote)
  • Craig Donlon, Sentinel-6 mission scientist, European Space Agency (remote)
  • Remko Scharroo, programme scientist for Sentinel-6 EUMESTAT (remote)
  • Deirdre Byrne, oceanographer, NOAA (remote)
  • Luanne Thompson, Walters Professor of Oceanography, University of Washington (remote)

A prelaunch news conference will be held today at 2 p.m. PST (5 p.m. EST), live on NASA Television and the agency’s website. Participants are:

  • Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for Science Mission Directorate, NASA HQ
  • Johann-Dietrich Worner, Director-General, European Space Agency
  • Pierrik Vuilleumier, Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich project manager, European Space Agency
  • Parag Vaze, Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich project manager, JPL
  • Tim Dunn, NASA Launch Director, Launch Services Program, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center
  • Julianna Scheiman, program manager, NASA Launch Services, SpaceX
  • Anthony Mastalir, commander, 30th Space Wing and Western Launch and Test Range
  • John Ott, weather officer, 30th Space Wing

NASA TV launch coverage will begin at 8:45 a.m. PST (11:45 a.m. EST) on Nov. 21.

Follow along with launch activities and get more information about the mission at: https://www.nasa.gov/sentinel-6.

Learn more about NASA’s Launch Services Program at: https://www.nasa.gov/centers/kennedy/launchingrockets/index.html.

Stay connected with the mission on social media, and let people know you’re following it on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram using the hashtag #SeeingTheSeas and tag these accounts:

Twitter: @NASA@NASAEarth@NASA_JPL@NASASocial@ESA@ESA_EO@EU_Commission@NOAA@CNES@Eumetsat@CopernicusEU@defis_eu  @SpaceX@NASA_LSP@NASA36030thSpaceWing
Facebook: NASANASA JPLNASA EarthNASA LSP30thSpaceWing
Instagram: NASANASAJPLNASAEarthVandenberg_AFB

Sentinel-6 Satellite Arrives at Vandenberg for Preflight Checkout

The Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite, secured inside a shipping container, arrives at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Sept. 24, 2020, aboard an Antonov cargo aircraft.
The Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite, secured inside a shipping container, arrives at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Sept. 24, 2020, aboard an Antonov cargo aircraft. Photo credit: NASA/JPL

The Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite, secured inside a shipping container, arrived at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Thursday, Sept. 24, aboard an Antonov cargo aircraft. It was offloaded from the aircraft and moved to the SpaceX Payload Processing Facility for checkout and preflight processing.

The mission is an international partnership and the first launch of a constellation of two satellites that will observe changes in Earth’s sea levels for at least the next decade. Launching atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 Full Thrust rocket, Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich is targeted to lift off from Vandenberg’s Space Launch Complex 4 on Nov. 10, 2020.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, manages NASA’s contribution to the mission. The Launch Services Program, based at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, is responsible for launch management.

Kennedy Engineers Play Major Role in Mars 2020 Mission Success

Mars 2020 Perseverance rover lift off
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V 541 rocket lifts off from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on July 30, 2020, at 7:50 a.m. EDT, carrying NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover and Ingenuity helicopter. Photo credit: NASA/Tony Gray and Tim Powers

When NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover roared off the pad aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 41 Thursday, July 30, at 7:50 a.m., there were a lot of energized engineers on the ground at Kennedy Space Center.

Following the successful launch, the Florida spaceport’s Director of Engineering, Shawn Quinn, offered praise to the team’s support of Kennedy’s Launch Services Program (LSP).

“Our LSP engineering team diligently worked through multiple milestones to achieve launch readiness,” Quinn said. “Every mission presents its own unique challenges, including Mars 2020. The engineering team’s response to these challenges was outstanding.”

The team supported critical reviews and tests, such as: the LSP pre-Flight Readiness Review (FRR) Risk Control Board, FRR Launch Management Coordination meeting, systems certification review, and mission dress rehearsal. Engineering technical experts worked through 247 engineering review summaries in support of the historic mission.

Quinn also recognized the Engineering’s Construction of Facilities (COF) team for its contributions to facility and infrastructure support.

“The real-time support to the Spaceport Integration and Services directorate in addressing operations and maintenance-related issues and concerns during processing was a critical piece to the success of the mission,” Quinn said.

The team performed facility repairs and upgrades — including replacing obsolete substations, switch gears, chillers, air ventilation and conditioning systems, facility electrical, lighting, and fire protection systems at the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility Mission Operations Support Building, the Multi-Operation Support Building, the Radiothermalisotopic Generator Facility, and Hangar AE — all in support of this historic mission.

Perseverance is now on its way to seek signs of ancient life and collect rock and soil samples for possible return to Earth. Along with the rover is the Ingenuity helicopter, a technology demonstration that will be the first powered flight on Mars.The rover will arrive on the Red Planet on Feb. 18, 2021.

The mission addresses high-priority science goals for Mars exploration, including key astrobiology questions concerning the potential for life on Mars. It not only seeks signs of habitable conditions on Mars in the ancient past, but also will search for signs of past microbial life.

Successful Launch Sends Perseverance on Seven-Month Journey to Mars

Mars 2020 Perseverance launch
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V 541 rocket climbs upward after lifting off from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on July 30, 2020, at 7:50 a.m. EDT, carrying NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover and Ingenuity helicopter. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

By Jim Cawley
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

Not obstacles, not complexity — not even a worldwide pandemic — could keep NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover from blasting off on its historic mission to the Red Planet.

On Thursday, July 30, at 7:50 a.m. EDT, Perseverance lifted off aboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V 541 rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, bound for a Feb. 18, 2021, arrival to Mars, where it will touch down on the surface of Jezero Crater.

“It was an amazing launch; very successful,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said during Thursday’s post-launch news conference at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. “It went right on time, it is on a trajectory now that has been done with pinpoint accuracy, and it is, in fact, on its way to Mars.”

Perseverance, which will reach Mars on Feb. 18, 2021, is carrying seven different scientific instruments. Photo credit: NASA/Tony Gray

Due to the alignment of Earth and Mars, the mission’s launch period would have expired on Aug. 15. That placed increased importance on hitting the window; otherwise, the rover would have needed to be stored for two years, until the next favorable alignment.

“(The ULA and Launch Services team) gave us a perfect launch this morning — right down the middle; couldn’t have aimed us any better,” said Matt Wallace, deputy project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “They really pushed hard to keep us on this limited planetary launch window in 2020.”

With its unique and distinct challenges, COVID-19 certainly threatened that timeline. Wallace admitted there have been “very strenuous moments” in the past few months dealing with the pandemic.

“It really took the entire agency to step up and help us; and they didn’t hesitate,” he said. “The team out there — thousands of people — have really made this a special mission. As people have eluded to, ‘Perseverance’ has become a pretty good name for this mission.”

Launch Director Omar Baez of NASA’s Launch Services Program beamed with pride following his team’s flawless effort.

Derrol Nail, left, NASA Communications, and Moogega Cooper, Planetary Protection engineer at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, provide live coverage during Thursday’s launch of the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover. Photo credit: NASA/Frankie Martin

“Fantastic, honored, proud, ecstatic — those are the kind of words I can think of right now,” Baez said. “We hit right at the beginning of the window, and the vehicle performed perfectly. It’s just a proud moment, and I’m glad our program provided what was needed to get this on the way.”

ULA President and CEO Tory Bruno said before the launch that the rocket would leap off of the pad. On a calm, clear, and beautiful Florida day, that’s exactly what happened.

“We ignited, the Atlas performed nominally throughout the mission, and we ended with just an extraordinarily accurate orbital insertion,” Bruno said.

About the size of a car with dimensions similar to the Curiosity rover, Perseverance carries seven different scientific instruments. The rover’s astrobiology mission, developed under NASA’s Mars Exploration Program, will search for signs of past microbial life. It will characterize the planet’s climate and geology, collect samples for future return to Earth, and pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet.

The mission marks the first time in history that samples will be collected to bring back to Earth from another planet. Another first: Ingenuity, a twin-rotor, solar-powered helicopter attached to the belly of the rover, will become the first aircraft to fly on another world.

Perseverance will spend at least one Martian year, or approximately two Earth years, exploring the landing site region on the Red Planet. Though the mission has a long way to go, Thursday’s launch sent it off to a terrific start.

“I loved it,” said NASA Associate Administrator Thomas Zurbuchen. “It’s like punching a hole in the sky.”

Today’s the Day: Perseverance Being Prepped for Liftoff!

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover aboard sits on the pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 41 on July 30, 2020. Photo credit: NASA

Good morning, and welcome to today’s live blog coverage of NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover launch! It is a beautiful morning here at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

We are just over an hour away from today’s scheduled 7:50 a.m. EDT liftoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 41. There is a two-hour launch window. Perseverance will blast off aboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V 541 rocket to embark on its seven-month journey to the Red Planet. NASA’s Launch Services Program, (LSP) based at Kennedy, is managing the launch.

Weather reports have been positive — the U.S. Air Force 45th Weather Squadron predicted an 80% chance of favorable weather conditions for the launch. An updated weather report is expected shortly.

This mission is the culmination of years of dedicated work by thousands of people, including teams from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where the spacecraft was designed and built; Kennedy, where it was assembled; ULA, Lockheed Martin, and scientists from around the world. In the U.S., flight hardware was built in 44 states, involving more than 550 cities, towns and communities.

Perseverance, which will reach Mars on Feb. 18, 2021, is carrying seven different scientific instruments. The rover’s astrobiology mission, developed under NASA’s Mars Exploration Program, will search for signs of past microbial life. Ingenuity, a twin-rotor, solar-powered helicopter attached to the belly of the rover, will become the first aircraft to fly on another world.

NASA Television and the agency’s website will provide live launch coverage starting at 7 a.m. Stay tuned as the mission eclipses multiple milestones — including stage separation, main engine cutoff, and spacecraft separation — or follow along right here at blogs.nasa.gov/Mars2020. NASA will broadcast a post-launch news conference, beginning at 11:30 a.m.