Natalie Pfister

Natalie Pfister in Zion

Favorite college memories: "Traveling to NASA's Johnson Space Center as a member of the Illinois Space Society's Micro-g NExT team and getting to test our micrometeoroid damage repair tool in the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory. I got to sit in on astronauts Jeanette Epps and Shane Kimbrough's pre-dive briefing and personally demonstrate to them how to use our tool.  Although time constraints kept our tool from being tested by the astronauts, the tool was tested by the NBL dive team instead and we still received a ton of great feedback! After testing, our team also got a private tour of one of JSC's buildings thanks to Kirk Shireman, the program manager for the International Space Station, who had visited students in AE at UIUC a few weeks before.

Another favorite memory is completely due to the awesome people I have been able to meet and become friends with through the aerospace department. Starting my sophomore year, a group of AE students, mostly friends from ISS, and I started doing massive spring break road trips out west to explore as far and wide as possible. Sophomore year five of us crammed into a tiny Chevy Sonic and drove 4042.5 miles out to Utah, the Grand Canyon, Meteor Crater, and back in only 9 days. Along the way we also stopped at the Cosmosphere Museum in Kansas to learn more about space history and visited 3 national parks in 24 hours. While I missed the junior year road trip due to study abroad and our senior year road trip was cut short due to the coronavirus (though we still made it to Zion National Park!), these road trip memories are something that I will look back on fondly forever."

Immediate plans: " I will be moving out to the D.C. area to work for Northrop Grumman Space Systems as a Spacecraft Guidance, Navigation, and Control Associate Engineer. I am really excited to move to a new area, explore a new city, and get to work on actual spacecraft, which has been a dream of mine!"

Future plans: "In 5 to 10 years I would like to be working on some project relating to human spaceflight, including possibly working on a lunar or Mars mission. I have no idea what this would look like or what my position would be; I just want to be a part of our future trips into space."

Photo: "This picture was taken on my spring break road trip this year, where myself and 9 other aerospace students trekked out to Zion National Park. We had bigger plans to visit several more parks but decided to cut our trip short due to the coronavirus."