Nasa, Makenzie Lystrup

History made: NASA swears in first-ever female director with unconventional oath

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) made a historical appointment on April 13 by naming the first woman Dr Makenzie Lystrup as director of Goddard Space Flight Center. She took her oath not on the Bible but on Carl Sagan’s 1994 book Pale Blue Dot.

There are several office holders all across the US who have used different books to put on their hands and take oaths. Some used the US Constitution, some took oaths on the Holy Quran, and this was for the first time that someone assumed charge of their office by swearing on a book by Sagan.

Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space is a book written in 1994 by the astronomer Carl Sagan. He named the book as he was inspired by the famous Pale Blue Dot picture of the Earth taken by the Voyager 1 space probe in 1990 from a distance of around six billion kilometres.

Makenzie Lystrup noted that “I’m humbled and honoured to lead such an amazing and diverse world-renowned team.”

Nasa’s newly-appointed director also said, “To build upon our legacy, I’m keenly focused on growing the next generation of innovators along with ensuring our team has the resources and tools to advance technologies and make new discoveries that boost the space economy and benefit us all.”

Goddard Space Flight Center is one of the largest field centres of Nasa. It is in Maryland. According to Nasa, the centre is responsible for the oversight and execution of a $4bn portfolio. The centre also hosts the largest number of engineers, technologists and scientists focusing on Earth and Space sciences.

Nasa’s administrator Bill Nelson noted that “Makenzie is a natural leader, bringing to Goddard a scientist’s drive for discovery along with a wealth of industry experience and knowledge.”

“As centre director, she will lead a world-renowned team of scientists, engineers, and technologists focused on Earth and space science,” he added.

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