From Arctic Summits to Stellar Elevations: Christy Hansen’s Distinctive Journey to Head NASA’s Business Low Earth Orbit Advancement Program

Christy Hansen, with her 25 years of experience in human spaceflight, has been a significant contributor to NASA’s space exploration endeavors. She has held many roles in the organization that have helped shape her into a leader in the field. Currently, she is serving a six-month term as the deputy manager for NASA’s Commercial Low Earth Orbit Development Program (CLDP) at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Before this, Hansen worked as the deputy mission manager for the Artemis program at NASA Headquarters in Washington, assisting with the integration of science and utilization into mission planning. In her current role, she uses her extensive expertise to further NASA’s commercial space initiatives, contributing to the agency’s long-term goals.

Hansen has a rich history with the Johnson Space Center, where she worked from 1999 to 2010 as an operations engineer. During this period, she developed procedures, planned spacewalks, and trained astronauts for missions involving the Space Shuttle, International Space Station, and Hubble Space Telescope.

In 2010, she moved to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, where she managed operations for the Robotic Refueling Mission, a technology demonstration payload that was sent to the International Space Station. She later led multiple missions studying Earth’s ice sheets and sea ice in Greenland and Antarctica.

In a personal capacity, Hansen used her engineering skills to address her husband’s diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in 2014. She spearheaded the introduction of eye-gaze technology at Goddard, allowing individuals with neurodegenerative disabilities to continue working without the use of their hands or voice. Her husband, Dave Parker, benefited from this technology, continuing his work on space station hardware until he passed away in March 2021.

Hansen is currently focusing on fostering a robust commercial low Earth orbit environment at the CLDP. She believes in collaborative efforts and is committed to working with different disciplines and partners to achieve NASA’s mission. Her diverse experience in human spaceflight and science missions offers her a unique perspective, enabling her to understand the goals, priorities, and culture of key NASA stakeholders.

Hansen advises young girls interested in space to pursue their passion despite challenges, emphasizing the importance of their unique ideas and experiences. Looking forward, she aims to make space more accessible and affordable, hoping to broaden the field of future space explorers. She believes these efforts will be crucial stepping stones for landing on the Moon again and eventually reaching Mars.

NASA’s commercial strategy for low Earth orbit is aimed at providing the government with reliable and safe services at a lower cost. This will allow NASA to concentrate on the Artemis missions to the Moon in preparation for Mars while also continuing to use low Earth orbit as a training ground for these deep space missions.

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