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Space Camp Alumni Spotlight: Andrea Hanson


Alumni Spotlight

Hanson 1Dr. Andrea Hanson always knew she wanted to pursue a career in engineering. She grew up in Lake Park, MN and while in high school she won an award that came with a tour of the 3M facility in St. Paul, MN. The tour guide was a chemical engineer and demonstrated to Andrea how the first Post-it Note™ was created and she got to see its sticky adhesive through an electron microscope. She decided then to enroll in the Chemical Engineering program at the University of North Dakota (UND). While a        student at UND she took a course in Space Studies which led to her decision to work as a counselor at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center. She spent her first season as an Advanced Space Academy counselor in the summer of 2000. That summer was spent learning, and then teaching campers, about orbital      mechanics, space science, rocketry, space shuttle and space station systems, and space physiology. The experience changed her educational and professional trajectory. Andrea said after working at Space Camp, “I fell in love with space, the engineering, the science, and the team work required for successful space missions. I was most interested in how the human body adapts so readily to the microgravity environment and experiences rapid bone and muscle losses even after a couple of weeks in space. It was then that I knew I wanted to spend my career helping to find solutions to these unique health challenges.” After completing her studies at UND, she continued her education at the University of Colorado where she earned a Master’s and Doctorate in Aerospace Engineering, focusing on Bioastronautics and Microgravity Sciences. Today Andrea works at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas where she manages the Exercise, Physiology, & Countermeasures (ExPC) Laboratory and serves as the ISS Exercise Countermeasures Specialist. This team combines their expertise on how the body adapts to microgravity with technology and advanced techniques to optimize human performance in space missions. Her work in the ExPC lab also focuses on a number of research projects focused on finding answers to the remaining identified health risks as we prepare to journey to Mars. In development of future medical devices and exercise hardware, Andrea is also involved with testing these systems in microgravity through parabolic flight aboard NASA’s Weightless Wonder, C-9 Aircraft. She is proud to be working towards preparing for travel beyond the ISS and on to Mars. Andrea continues to be involved with Space Camp, “Today, I am thrilled to be working with the USSRC Alumni Advancement Board (AAB) through the Space Camp Hall of Fame and as the future Co-Chair of the AAB. I credit Space Camp with providing me the inspiration, the initial knowledge base, and confidence to follow my dreams to work in the space industry. I am so impressed with the recent upgrades made to the training center floor, with Orion simulators and new Science on Orbit training facilities, and the vision the USSRC continues to lead as they inspire the next generations of Scientists, Engineers, Artists, Teachers, and Astronauts! I am so thankful to have an opportunity to give back to this amazing organization that set me on the most exciting career path to reach toward the stars.” waves


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