Local woman finds niche with NASA
A Calgary woman is living her life-long dream of working among the stars.
Laura Lucier, a graduate of the University of Calgary Schulich School of Engineering, is a member of the Canadian Space Agency contingent at NASA’s Mission Control in Houston.
The 31-year-old was the lead robotics mission planner for the recently completed STS-118 Endeavour shuttle mission — a mission three years in the making.
Now, if you are trying to move a 17-metre robotic arm one centimetre at a time to replace trusses on the International Space Station (ISS) orbiting the earth, and you have a clearance of less than two inches, Lucier is who you would call.
Working closely with the mission astronauts, Lucier’s role was to create the intricate instructions to move the Canadarm2 and the procedure to install new hardware on the ISS during spacewalks.
“I had produced all of this work that was about to go and be executed, so there was a lot more stress involved — a lot more anxiety going into it,” she said of the mission.
Working with the space program is something Lucier had dreamed of since childhood.
She recalled numerous visits to the Ontario Science Centre growing up, racing home to watch space shuttle launches and constructing model airplanes as the catalyst for her early love of outer space.
“A lot of kids dream of being astronauts or firefighters or ballerinas, and they’re just childhood dreams and they change their minds regularly, and I never did — I never wavered on that,” said Lucier. “I’ve always, as long as I can remember been interested in the same thing.”
Lucier works on all shuttle missions with the Canadian Space Agency, however this was her first time being the lead robotics mission planner. The next shuttle mission is slated for mid-to-late October and Lucier relishes her role of helping the Canadian Space Agency and NASA grasp for the furthest reaches of outer space.