Minutes before 10 a.m. lectures begin today, astronaut Jessica Meir ’99 will soar through the atmosphere and rocket into space toward the International Space Station.
Her first-ever space flight will depart from Kazakhstan at 9:57 a.m. EST. The flight will take roughly six hours and will launch Meir’s six-month stay on the ISS for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Lifting off from launchpad No. 1 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, the rockets of the spacecraft will ignite from the same location where the first person in space, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, originally departed from in 1961.
This is Meir’s first flight since she was selected to be a NASA astronaut in 2013. She will co-pilot the Soyuz ship alongside cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka, who has already traveled to the ISS twice and completed over 300 days in space. Hazzaa Ali Almansoori, representing the United Arab Emirates, rounds out the three-person crew.
“The driving force of everything that I’ve done in my life has been exploration,” Meir told The Herald last April, just as she began the last few months of preparation for the space flight. At the University, Meir pursued her passion for the life sciences by concentrating in biology. She also advanced her long-held interest in space as an active member of the flight and space clubs. She credits her time at the University as an influential step in her path to NASA astronaut.
“The whole atmosphere at Brown is interdisciplinary with plenty of exploration. It creates an atmosphere of problem solving. Jessica is a good example of that. She’s a product of that environment,” Professor James Head said in an interview with The Herald in 2013, when Meir was selected for her astronaut class.
Now, Meir will have the chance to explore from above the Earth’s atmosphere, where she will participate in and conduct a myriad of scientific experiments aboard the ISS. She will help conduct about 300 experiments, according to Space.com.
Meir’s first year roommate Jaclyn Mason ’99 told The Herald in 2013 that “She had a goal, she achieved it and every step she took was directed toward that goal.”
Today, Meir gets to see that goal come to fruition, as she will look down at Earth from her seat in the Soyuz ship.