Engineering alumna at Blue Origin working on Artemis lunar mission for NASA
by Matt Jardin |
On May 19, NASA announced it had awarded Blue Origin a $3.4 billion contract to design its Blue Moon lunar lander as part of its Artemis V mission. Through Artemis, NASA will explore more of the moon than ever before in preparation for future astronaut missions to Mars launching from the surface of the moon.
Targeting a 2029 launch, NASA will send four astronauts to lunar orbit aboard the Orion spacecraft. Once Orion docks with the Gateway space station, two astronauts will transfer to Blue Moon for a weeklong trip to the moon’s South Pole to conduct research and exploration.
Working for Blue Origin on the Artemis mission is electrical engineering alumna Lindsey Bohnert, who is helping develop the communication systems on the Blue Moon lander, including the antennas and radio equipment, which is as specific as she can currently be given the confidential nature of the mission.
For Bohnert, what inspires her most about her job isn’t just that she gets to work on something that gets to travel to space, but that she gets to contribute to a project that has the potential to have lasting benefits for humanity.
“Lunar permanence is not something I'll probably see in my lifetime, and I don't know if my kids will see it, but it's the stepping stone to making space more accessible to benefit the people on Earth,” said Bohnert. “Space is one of the most challenging environments to create in. A lot of inventions and health applications come from technology that we worked on to get into space, and that's when the benefit for Earth happens right now.”
Artemis marks the second time Bohnert has worked with NASA. Her first job after graduating from UAA was for Peraton, a small technology and security company that contracts for NASA. During her tenure, she worked in the Electronic Systems Test Laboratory at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, conducting compatibility testing for spacecraft communications.
Following her time at Peraton, Bohnert got a position for Lockheed Martin, a leading aerospace and defense corporation. At Lockheed Martin, she worked as an RF (radio frequency) engineer with electrical ground support equipment, which is, again, as specific as she can be on the topic.
Bohnert credits her impressive post-undergraduate resume to two things, the first being the courses she took at UAA that cover RF which included electromagnetics, signal analysis and antenna theory. Despite being a sought-after skill set in the aerospace industry, not many universities provide RF experience until the graduate level.
Secondly, Bohnert cites her time participating with the UAA Robotics Club and attending a Certified Associate in Project Management Bootcamp as getting her the internships that led to her first job contracting for NASA. Bohnert recommends that strategy of incremental steps as the flight plan for landing that big dream job.
“Never shut the door on yourself,” said Bohnert. “You might have to take intermediate steps to get to where you want to be. So start with that internship. Start with a club. Start with those classes. Just build up to it. It doesn't have to be all or nothing.”