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Marine Corps Cobra helicopter pilot becomes NASA astronaut & could be first woman on the moon

U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Jasmin Moghbeli, a pilot assigned to Marine Test and Evaluation Squadron (VMX) 1, conducts her final flight in an AH-1 "Cobra" at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., June 7, 2017. (U.S. Marine Corps photo taken by Lance Cpl. Christian Cachola)
January 16, 2020

A U.S. Marine Corps Cobra helicopter pilot has just become a NASA astronaut – and she’s the second active-duty female Marine officer to do so.

After spending 12 years in the Marine Corps, Maj. Jasmin Moghbeli was accepted into NASA’s 2017 Astronaut Candidate Class, and graduated last week after two years of intense training, according to the Department of Defense.

2017 NASA astronaut candidate Jasmin Moghbeli wears a spacesuit prior to underwater spacewalk training at NASA’s Johnson Space Center Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory, April 11, 2018. (Josh Valcarcel/NASA)

Moghbeli and 10 others graduated from NASA’s newly established Artemis program, which plans to send both male and female astronauts to the moon by 2024.

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This means Moghbeli is in the running to be the first woman on the moon.

Throughout her Marine Corps career, Moghbeli acquired 2,000 hours of flight time in 25 different aircraft as a test pilot and served more than 150 combat missions, according to her NASA bio.

Moghbeli, who says becoming an astronaut was her childhood dream, credited her Marine Corps training for the path she is on today.

NASA portrait of 2017 Astronaut Candidate Jasmin Moghbeli in front of a T-38 trainer aircraft at Ellington Field near NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, June 6, 2017. (Robert Markowitz/NASA)

“The Marine Corps played a very important part in shaping me and giving me a lot of the skills I needed – not just the hard skills but a lot of the soft skills, like how to communicate and how to take my entire team into consideration and not just my personal needs,” Moghbeli said.

“It’s hard to teach those things, but we do it very well in the Marine Corps. And my test piloting background — the operational experience and the engineering side of that — both tie in perfectly here [at NASA],” she added.

Then-NASA astronaut candidate Jasmin Moghbeli poses for a portrait in the Johnson Space Center’s Systems Engineering Simulator, a real-time, crew-in-the-loop engineering simulator for advanced spaceflight programs, July 9, 2019. (Bill Ingalls/NASA)

Moghbeli was mentored by Marine Corps Lt. Col. Nicole Mann, who was the first female Marine to become a NASA astronaut in 2015.

She graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a degree in Aerospace Engineering with Information Technology, and later obtained a graduate Engineering Science degree in Aerospace Engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School.

Moghbeli then went on to become a distinguished graduate of the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School.

She has received four Air Medals, two Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals, three Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, among other unit commendations.