AFP, published on Sunday January 12, 2020 at 6:20 p.m.
Jasmin “Jaws” Moghbeli earned her badass name when she got her jaws trapped during a helicopter mission in Afghanistan. An anecdote among many others for this pilot who became an astronaut at NASA on Friday.
The graduate of the prestigious MIT University can add a new line to her CV: she is the first American astronaut of Iranian origin.
The 36-year-old immigrant, the daughter of Iranian parents who fled the 1979 Islamic revolution, hopes her example will inspire young people like her.
“I wish everyone could be inspired by everyone, but it’s a little easier to be inspired by someone who looks like you, with whom you have things in common,” explains l ‘AFP Jasmin Moghbeli.
Born in Germany, she moved, as a child, with her family to the United States. Its history then comes from the waking American dream.
At 15, the one who grew up in Baldwin in New York State, participated in a space camp, before pursuing studies to one day win the Moon (or Mars).
– “Not treated differently” –
An MIT diploma in aeronautical engineering in her pocket, she joined the army in 2005 to become a pilot. Four years after September 11, her parents are worried about the way others look at their daughter.
After the attacks of September 11, 2001, President George W. Bush has placed Iran among the “axis of evil” countries supporting terrorism.
“When I decided to return to the Marines after MIT, in a post-September 11 world, did my parents take me for a madwoman? Yes, absolutely,” she recalls speaking on the Houston Space Center scene.
Brown hair plated in a ponytail and piercing gaze, she remembers the “unconditional support” of her family once her decision was made.
Since Donald Trump came to power, relations between Iran and the United States have become even more tense, and Washington’s elimination of an Iranian general in Iraq in early January has raised fears of an escalation to an armed conflict. .
However, Ms. Moghbeli believes that this context had no direct impact on her life.
“I did not feel that I was treated differently at all,” she told AFP.
– “The same opportunities” –
Now an astronaut, she is part of the new promotion called “Turtles” (turtles). Of an unprecedented diversity, it is made up of thirteen North Americans who have joined the ranks of astronauts able to fly in space in Houston, after two and a half years of training at NASA.
Since the last promotion of astronauts four years ago, NASA has ensured an almost perfect gender parity between the candidates.
The idea that everyone should be able to feel represented by aspiring astronauts of various origins is very present among the leaders of the space organization, as for the administrator of NASA Jim Bridenstine who said Friday that it was for him of a subject “of the greatest importance”.
“I have an eleven-year-old daughter,” he said after the ceremony, “I want her to consider having the same opportunities as I thought I would grow up. I think the next cohort of astronauts will be just as diverse as this one, and in the future, that’s what we’ll be highlighting. “
“When I was in 6th grade and I said that I was going to become an astronaut, do you imagine that everyone answered + Yeah, she will do it +? Surely not,” laughs Jasmin Moghbeli in front of the audience. “You have to have faith in what you love to do, and that will be enough to keep you going. Sometimes you will fail, but you must not give up.”
“Reliable, empathetic, intelligent, resilient and relentless, it is for all these reasons, among others, that Jaws is the perfect crew member with whom to go into space”, says of her comrade promotion Jonny Kim on the stage of the Johnson Space Center, where Jasmin Moghbeli raises his arms to the sky, the conquering air, and smiles at the crowd.