STEM Presents: Brad Johnson of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

“If you are interested in economics, finance, business, engineering, astronomy, physics, chemistry, biology, medicine, we have something for you in the space program no matter what your discipline is. We need help, now and in the future,” pitched Brad Johnson of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD, who spoke to Foxcroft students just prior to Winter Break about his career, our next mission to the moon, and how they might get involved with the space program.
“We are going to build a mini space station above the moon,” explained Johnson. “People will go out for a couple of weeks and then they'll come back and we'll send some more. And then we'll start building things that can go down to the surface of the moon for a couple of days and then they'll come back. All of this will happen by 2024.”

Johnson, whose career with NASA began with the last Apollo mission in 1973, is currently working on NASA's Artemis program which will send the first woman and next man to the moon and back safely by 2024. After the moon, NASA plans to go to Mars by 2030 and then on to the Europa moon of Jupiter, which is believed to have ice and therefore water, by 2050. 

For 90 minutes, Johnson talked with students about putting humans safely into space. From gravity (the moon’s gravity makes us about 17% lighter than on Earth, Mars gravity makes us about 38% lighter, and Jupiter makes us about 240% heavier), to communication time (it takes from 4-24 minutes for a signal to reach Mars and up to an hour to reach Jupiter), travel time (it will take 9 months to reach Mars and 5.5 years to get to Jupiter), and financial concerns (NASA is working with private industry to fund portions of the program), Mr. Johnson illustrated the challenges and opportunities involved.

“So we are kind of in the third generation of manned exploration of space. I am fortunate enough to have worked in all three,” said Johnson, making one last pitch to the girls for their involvement in the space programs of the future, “but you all will have an opportunity, in your generation, to work on this one and the next one.”
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An all-girls boarding and day school in Northern Virginia, Foxcroft prepares young women in grades 9-12 for success in college and in life. Our outstanding academic program offers challenging courses, including Advanced Placement classes and an innovative STEM program. Our premiere equestrian program is nationally recognized, and our athletic teams have won conference and state championships. Experience the best in girls' boarding schools: visit Foxcroft.