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El Paso native and rocket scientist makes an impact at NASA with Artemis 1 launch

Yvonne Villegas-Aguilera{ }{p}{/p}
Yvonne Villegas-Aguilera

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For Wednesday’s Breaking the Bias segment, CBS4 introduces you to El Paso native and NASA rocket scientist Yvonne Villegas-Aguilera.

“I'm a supervisor. We call ourselves branch chiefs here at NASA. So, it's a branch of solid propulsion system engineers, and pyrotechnic system engineers,” Villegas-Aguilera said.

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She supervised and helped the engineers who designed the solid rocket boosters of Artemis 1 and the engineers who designed the pyro devices that ignited the boosters.

“It's just kind of exciting and neat and, it's dynamic,” Villegas-Aguilera said. “There's always something new and always problems we have to figure out and try to solve.”

The Artemis 1 uncrewed spacecraft is the first step in returning astronauts to the moon. If successful, another mission will carry the first woman and first person of color to the lunar surface in 2025.

Villegas-Aguilera said she’s proud to be one of the females helping make this mission a reality.

“We do have a small percentage of females and other minorities in this branch and even a veteran, but it’s still primarily a male business, unfortunately,” Villegas-Aguilera said. “It's taken just time to earn the respect and just prove to them that I do know what I'm doing. I can do this job. Once I earned their respect, you know, it's pretty easy to work with them.”

She hopes she’s not only setting an example for other women with dreams like hers but, also for her two boys who are three and eight years old. She said her husband has also played a pivotal role in her success by supporting her every step of the way.

“My oldest one says he wants to be an astronaut. He says, mommy's gonna build the rocket, and he's gonna, he's gonna go up. And then he wants me to make sure that I’m there to pick him up when he comes back," she said.

If you missed last week's Breaking the Bias segment you can watch it and others in this section.

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