Simon Lock

Two Cambridge alumni celebrate their graduation today under the NASA Artemis programme and, in 2024, are set to be the first women to set foot on the moon.

Dr Jenni Sidey-Gibbons completed her Engineering PhD at Jesus in 2015, while Kayla Barron, a Gates Cambridge scholar, studied for a Master’s in Nuclear Engineering at Peterhouse until 2011.

This news follows NASA’s announcement in August last year which outlined that women would be included in its next moon mission, despite women currently making up less than one third of its astronauts.


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Jenni and Kayla join 12 others to become the first set of graduates of the programme, which is expected to cost an estimated $20-30bn over the next five years.

They are now eligible for spaceflight to the International Space Station, Artemis missions to the Moon, and future missions to Mars, after more than 2 years of training.

Dr Sigey-Gibbons, a Canadian citizen who completed her undergraduate at McGill University, lectured Cambridge students on internal combustion and helped run ‘Cambridge Robogals’, which aimed to increase female participation in STEM.

NASA candidate Kayla Barron, who won a place from 18,000 applicants to the programme, is originally from Washington and graduated from the US Naval Academy before studying in Cambridge.

As astronauts, the two will also help develop spacecrafts, support teams currently on space-stations, and will be among only 500 humans who have successfully travelled into space.

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