Jasmin Moghbeli celebrates during the astronaut graduation at Johnson Space...

Jasmin Moghbeli celebrates during the astronaut graduation at Johnson Space Center in Houston on Jan. 10, 2020. Credit: AFP via Getty Images / Mark Felix

Jasmin Moghbeli, who dreamed of becoming an astronaut as a kid in Baldwin, will take her first trip into space, serving as spacecraft commander for a flight to the International Space Station, NASA has announced.

The SpaceX Crew-7 mission is expected to launch no earlier than 2023 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, according to an agency statement.

It has been a long journey for Moghbeli, who first dreamed of being a space explorer in Lenox Elementary School in Baldwin. She wrote a sixth-grade book report on the first woman in space, Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova, and was bitten by the space bug.

Her mother, Fereshteh Moghbeli, interviewed by phone Friday, recalled that she and her daughter put together a makeshift spacesuit for the project, made of white windbreaker jackets, a plastic face mask and snow boots.

"It looked so funny, but back then we thought it was creative," said her mother, 67, who now lives in Texas. "From then on, that's what she wanted to do."

Her daughter was a consistently high-achieving student, from Lenox through her graduation from Baldwin High School, where she played basketball and lacrosse, she said. And her family supported her dreams of space exploration.

"We always thought there was a chance," said Fereshteh Moghbeli. "She's a very hard worker."

Her parents chose to live in Baldwin for its good schools, and were pleased to learn it was a multicultural area, she said.

"Both our kids saw people from everywhere, every ethnicity, every background," she said. Jasmin, 38, who also now lives in Texas, has an older brother, Kaveh Moghbeli.

Jasmin Moghbeli went on to earn a bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a master's degree in aerospace engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School in California. She became an AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopter pilot and Marine Corps test pilot, logging over 150 combat missions.

When Moghbeli graduated from NASA's astronaut school in 2020, the ceremony was livestreamed into the gym at Lenox Elementary, where students watched and were treated to a video chat with her. Moghbeli was among 13 men and women chosen from 18,000 applicants for the class, which lasted two years.

During the video chat, she urged the young students to dream big, and to keep going when they face failure.

"When I was a sixth-grader and said I wanted to become an astronaut, did everyone believe that I would one day do it?" she told the children at the time, her image projected on a big screen. "You're going to fail at some point, but you just have to keep going."

The excitement of the late-March NASA announcement reached back to her school district. 

"We're thrilled," said Baldwin Superintendent Shari Camhi, who said Friday she has been emailing congratulations to Moghbeli. "We're already working to have the kids communicate with her while she's on the space station."

The school system took pride, she said, in producing such a successful student.

"I don't know anybody this big, who is so gracious," Camhi said.

Moghbeli's mother said she is hoping her daughter goes even further in her dream of traveling among the stars. She is part of the space agency's Artemis project, which aims to place a man and a woman on the moon.

So she could become the first woman to walk on the lunar surface.

"It's a possibility," said Fereshteh Moghbeli. "We are very proud. It's wonderful."

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