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Space Camp Alumni Spotlight: Michelle Christensen


Alumni Spotlight

michelle_BE4 close-1 (2) (Photo Courtesy of Michelle Christensen)

Dr. Michelle Christensen took an early interest in space and rockets, especially rocket             engines. When she was 5 years old, her father took her to Kennedy Space Center as a side trip to Disney World. “My parents did not expect me to be more excited about KSC than Disney World, but I thought the rockets were the coolest things I’d ever seen”, she said. Michelle later noticed that Space Camp was the grand prize on Nickelodeon’s Double Dare and knew she had to go. She spent years saving up her babysitting money and when she was in the 8th grade, she had enough to go to Space Academy. She would return a few years later to attend Advanced Space Academy, and later as a counselor for more than 3 years.

As soon as she arrived at Camp, Michelle realized how many great opportunities Huntsville had in propulsion and decided to go to school at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH). While at UAH, she worked in the Propulsion Research Center and was involved in         designing hardware and analyzing the injectors of the Space Shuttle Main Engine at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center. She went on to study combustion at Penn State, earning a PhD in Mechanical Engineering.

Today, Michelle is a propulsion development engineer at Blue Origin. She is working on the BE-4, a 550,000 pound thrust engine that will power Blue’s orbital launch vehicle, and United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan rocket. Her work on the BE-4 has included the design, analysis, and testing of components related to ignition and combustion in the engine’s preburner. She          described last November’s successful test flight of the New Shepard as the most exciting moment of her life. “It was truly amazing to see how many people with various skill sets contributed to the success of that flight and I was really proud to have been a member of that team.”

Do you know someone that is a Space Camp or Aviation Challenge Alumnus that’s doing inspiring things in a career of Science,                          Engineering, or Aviation? Please make suggestions for them to be profiled in our next issue at [email protected]




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