NASA is aiming to put the first woman on the moon by 2024 — and Amelia Gillespie already has plans to be the first woman on Mars.
“It’s not just men up there anymore. It’s women too,” the 9-year-old future astronaut said as she watched a congressional hearing on the future of NASA’s space exploration in honor of the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing this month.
Sporting a blue NASA flight suit from Space Camp, Amelia stood out in the halls of Congress, where she was the youngest spectator at the Senate aviation and space subcommittee hearing Tuesday.
Amelia and her mother, Kerry, had driven from Annapolis to meet and listen to the NASA engineers who testified before the panel, chaired by Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican.
Among the panel of witnesses: Gene Kranz, flight director of the Apollo 11 moon mission and author of “Failure Is Not an Option”; Homer Hickam, a retired NASA engineer and author of “Rocket Boys”; and Christine Darden, a former NASA data analyst and aerospace engineer whose work on the Apollo program was featured in the movie “Hidden Figures.”
Mr. Cruz said NASA and the U.S. need a “bold vision” for the next 50 years of space exploration, and he called upon the witnesses to explain what they want for NASA’s future.
“The objective of space exploration for NASA is to go to the red planet and land on Mars, and the first boot to set foot on the surface of Mars will be that of an American astronaut,” the senator said.