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Vanessa Rutherford

Vanessa Rutherford

Board Member

Vanessa Rutherford (Hernandez) grew up in San Jose, CA with stories of the space program regularly told around the dinner table from her father, Micky (Aviation Challenge alumni), who supported programs from Mercury to the Space Shuttle during his engineering career. After seeing an ad in a magazine, she finally was sent to Huntsville at the age of 12 and fell in love with camp from day one. She attended Space Camp programs four times in her youth, Space Camp in 1991, Academy Level 1 in 1993, Academy Level 2 in 1995, and Advanced Space Academy in 1997. She even received the Right Stuff award while attending Academy Level 1. She attributes her path to engineering from the experiences at Space Camp, and interacting with the counselors who were majoring in engineering and could speak to the experience.

After graduating from MIT with a degree in Materials Science and Engineering, she returned to camp as an Advanced Space Academy counselor in 2002 before relocating to Santa Clarita, CA, and embedding herself in the local community. She has worked in aerospace most of her career on programs such as the B-2 Bomber, James Web Space Telescope, various satellites, and contributed to sample submission for MISSE-8.

She recently returned to Family Space Camp in 2023 with her husband and daughter, which inspired her to apply to SCAAB. She currently serves on the USA Honda Foundation and Circle of Hope boards. She can also be found performing at the local community theater alongside her daughter.