The United States National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA) has selected seven new additions to the team of flight directors to oversee operations of the International Space Station, commercial crew, and Artemis missions to the Moon. The inductees in the class of 2022 include Heidi Brewer, Ronak Dave, Chris Dobbins, Garrett Hehn, Nicole McElroy, Elias Myrmo, and Diana Trujillo, who hails from Cali, Colombia.
After completing a comprehensive training program that includes operational leadership and risk management, as well as the technical aspects of flight control and spacecraft systems, these future flight directors will lead human spaceflight missions from the Mission Control Center at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
In this role, these individuals will lead teams of flight controllers, research and engineering experts, and support personnel around the world, making the real-time decisions critical to keeping NASA astronauts safe in space.
“These highly qualified individuals will be responsible for keeping astronauts safe and executing human spaceflight missions,” said NASA Director of Flight Operations Norm Knight. “There were many outstanding candidates, both from within the agency and across the spaceflight industry, which is a great indication of the tremendous talent we have here at NASA and within the growing spaceflight community.”
NASA’s flight directors lead missions to the space station and are preparing for lunar missions for NASA’s Artemis program. The total number of agency flight directors is now 108 since the namesake of the Mission Control Center, Christopher C. Kraft Jr., became the agency’s first flight director in 1958. The new class will be at the forefront of everything humans do in space, following in the footsteps of Apollo-era flight directors, including Glynn Lunney, Gene Kranz, and Kraft.
Becoming a NASA flight director requires years of study and dedication, as well as a background of professional experience in a high-stress environment, requiring fast-paced decision making.
“I am honored to welcome the flight director class of 2022. This diverse group brings with them an impressive body of experience flying the space station, launching rockets, driving Mars rovers, and developing interplanetary missions,” said acting NASA Chief Flight Director Emily Nelson. “These flight directors and the experience they bring with them will be critical in humanity’s return to the Moon and future exploration of Mars. I’m proud to have them join our team.”
Diana Trujillo most recently served as the Integrated Planning and Sequencing for Surface Missions Group Supervisor at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. In that role, she supported mission operations for NASA’s ongoing exploration missions on the surface of Mars as well as the planned Mars Sample Return mission. She previously served as a mission lead for the Mars Perseverance rover, where she was responsible for the rover’s tactical command team and the team that analyzed the rover’s telemetry to determine its health and state. She served as a surface flight director during the early surface operations of the Mars Perseverance rover, including rover commissioning and the deployment of Ingenuity, the first helicopter to operate on another planet. Previously, she served as a mission lead and the engineering operations deputy team chief for the Mars Curiosity mission.
Trujillo was born and raised in Cali, Colombia, and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Maryland in College Park, with additional studies at the University of Florida in Gainesville. She also is a graduate of Miami-Dade College in Florida and the NASA Academy at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Virginia. In 2021, she received the Cruz de Boyacá, the highest honor that the government of Colombia bestows upon civilians.