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Going to space a lifelong dream for Long Island astronaut candidate

Jasmin Moghbeli of Baldwin is one of 12

Jasmin Moghbeli of Baldwin is one of 12 applicants NASA chose from more than 18,300 for its new astronaut class. Photo Credit: NASA / Robert Markowitz

Jasmin Moghbeli had dreamed of going to space since she was a young girl in her Baldwin bedroom and is now one step closer to launching off planet.

Moghbeli, 33, was one of 12 people selected as part of NASA’s newest astronaut class, the administration announced last week. After completing her training, she could be assigned to conduct research on the International Space Station, launch on commercial spacecraft or fly on deep-space exploration missions.

Moghbeli, a major with the Marines who holds a degree in aerospace engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said she knew she wanted to travel to space as a sixth grader at Lenox Elementary School in North Baldwin. There, Moghbeli learned about Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman to travel in space, for a book report. She donned a space suit stitched together by her mother to deliver her findings about space travel to her class.

“That’s when I decided I wanted to be an astronaut,” she said. “And everything I’ve learned since has solidified that for me.”

Moghbeli graduated from Baldwin Senior High School, and went on to earn a degree from MIT while also competing on the university’s basketball, volleyball and lacrosse teams. Upon graduating, she joined the Marine Corps and served three tours. She has since worked as a helicopter test pilot — all with an eye toward someday applying to NASA, she said.

In December 2015, Moghbeli was one of 18,300 people who applied to join the 2017 astronaut candidate class. After two rounds of interviews, she learned May 25 that she had been chosen.

“My hands were shaking,” Moghbeli said. “It’s hard to describe adequately the feeling when you’ve wanted something since you were a little kid, and it’s something that seems so impossible, and it actually happens.”

Moghbeli will report to Johnson Space Center in Houston on Aug. 21 to begin two years of training, she said, adding that she’s excited to “expand our presence in space.”

“There’s so many things going on in the horizon,” Moghbeli said. “We’re going deeper than we ever have before. I still have that childlike excitement when I think about it.”

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