I Am Artemis: Katheryn Vasquez
Surrounded by the wonders of math and science at an early age, Katheryn Vasquez always knew that the sky was no limit for her ambitions to work at NASA.
“Working for NASA is my dream job,” said Vasquez, docking systems, hatches, and mechanisms subject-matter expert for Gateway’s Deep Space Logistics (DSL) Project at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. “I enjoy being a part of cutting-edge technology and history in the making and look forward to doing my part in helping land the first woman and first person of color on the Moon.”
Vasquez is a technical expert for Gateway’s DSL, the project office tasked with establishing a commercial supply chain in deep space to deliver cargo, experiments, and other station supplies to the Gateway lunar station that will orbit the Moon. Vasquez provides mechanical support by ensuring the cargo delivery vehicle’s hatch provides secure isolation of adjoining environments and allows safe passage of people and cargo, and that the docking system can properly and efficiently connect the logistics module to Gateway. Vasquez’s role also involves generating operational and performance requirements and determining enhancements needed to increase capability, efficiency, and lifetime of the cargo vehicle.
In March 2020, NASA awarded SpaceX as the first U.S. commercial provider under the Gateway Logistics Services contract. Vasquez and her Gateway DSL team members work closely with SpaceX, where they find creative ways to interact via special tasks and studies. One such study, for which Vasquez is serving as technical lead, is the Intermodule Ventilation, or IMV, Risk Mitigation Study, which evaluates the compatibility of the SpaceX DragonXL to interface to the Gateway external Radial and Axial IMV ports.
“I want to have a lasting impact on the way we explore, and being a part of Gateway allows me to do so,” said Vasquez. “I feel a sense of accomplishment knowing I’m contributing to landing Artemis astronauts on the Moon and beyond.”
Born in Miami, Florida, Vasquez attended Florida International University, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. During her studies, one of Vasquez’s professors recommended that she apply for a highly competitive NASA scholarship program. She describes winning the scholarship as the opportunity of a lifetime and a proud accomplishment that kickstarted her career at NASA. Vasquez later earned her master’s degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland.
In her spare time, she enjoys working out, spending time outdoors, camping with her family, and playing sports with her 4-year-old son, who Vasquez says is a big inspiration.
“My son’s interest in space fuels my passion to keep learning and exploring,” said Vasquez. “I try to put myself out there and do what I can to influence the next generation of explorers and empower them to go into STEM or technical careers.”
A vital component of Artemis and NASA’s deep space exploration plans, Gateway will serve as a human-tended space station near the Moon and help enable sustained deep space human exploration.
Learn more about Gateway: https://www.nasa.gov/gateway