Aerospace Engineering @ NASA + Insider Look on Space Exploration 🚀

Hold on tight... because we're heading straight for the stars w/ NASA JSC Aerospace Engineer ✨

You’ve probably been hearing a lot about space lately. There’s been tons of exciting things going on:

  • Perseverance => Mars (can you believe it’s already been 100 days?)

  • First flight on Mars w/ Ingenuity (if you’re curious like me and had to find out how, density/dynamic viscosity are pretty cool things)

  • Sending 2 missions to Venus?? 😮 (just announced 2 days ago!)

+ many more.

We’re so lucky to be witnessing history here.

To get the details of what it’s like being an engineer at NASA, I talked with Manuel Retana, NASA JSC Aerospace Engineer and prev. Assistive Robotics and Manipulation Laboratory @ Stanford.

This newsletter will be short + sweet (since I have AP tests in 2 days 😅 good luck to my hs readers!).

  1. 🌌 What’s it like working for NASA?

  2. 🦾 Why being relentlessly persistent will get you in the door when others aren’t able to

  3. 🛰 What’s next in space?

P.S. If you want a chance to be on the podcast (~260 downloads/episode) + meet someone super cool, keep reading 😉

If you’re new here, welcome! :D I post a biweekly newsletter breaking down tech, startups, and investment. Curious about any of the above? Drop your email below to start receiving editions every other week 🤗👇

🎙 Δx podcast

There’s something special I need to tell you about this episode… it was featured as one of the episodes on RSA Conference, the largest cybersecurity conference in the world with ~45k attendees! 🥳

Don’t worry if you couldn’t listen to it there — the pass to get in was $295. You’ll get to listen to it for free 👇

I really loved Manuel’s authenticity and willingness to share his story in this podcast.

At age 15, he moved from Mexico to the US to pursue his dream of engineering at NASA. (I’m 15… and wow. Really admire his bravery and maturity.)

He talks about his dream from a young age to work on robotics for space exploration, working at NASA, and why it’s so important to stay resilient. 🚀

💎 Δx takeaways

One thing I learned through talking with Manuel is how important it is to be relentlessly persistent.

Looking back, it’s easy to connect the dots. But in the present, things are a lot less smooth and way harder than they sound. You’ll face rejection, failure, and challenges to get to where you want to be.

Manuel applied to NASA 9 times. 😮

That’s 8 times he was rejected over and over before he finally had 1 yes. Most people might apply once, or twice, or maybe a few will even apply three times. It takes a lot of perseverance to be told “no” 8 times and still keep improving and get to the 9th — but that’s what separates the top 0.3%, 3 standard deviations from the average person.

This is a theme that I’ve seen in many people who reach success: being relentlessly persistent.

  1. It’s what Steve Jobs did to get his job at Atari — he literally told the service desk he would not leave the building until he had been given a job. (ok, maybe don’t be that persistent. but you get the point.)

  2. AirBnB founders had to be so persistent. No one thought that letting strangers sleep inside your house would ever be a good idea, but their story has become one of the epitomes of determination and hustle.

    They even sold cereal boxes to bring in extra money to sustain (funnily enough, it made more money than Airbnb itself in the beginning)

Just like in everyone’s journey, in space so many things fail. Manuel brings up the story of SpaceX and failing the first 2 launches and almost running out of money, US persistence in being far behind Sputnik yet continually innovating, and many more occasions where success only comes after many iterations and fails.

But before we move on to some exciting news and innovations for this week, as promised here’s how you can get on the podcast and talk to an influential guest:

All you have to do is share this newsletter with 3 (or more!) of your friends and hit Reply with their names (or send a screenshot with your post/message) to let me know that you’re interested! 💗👇

I might be transitioning this newsletter to invite-only to keep a tight-knit community, so if you know anyone who might be interested click below and shoot them a message through cyberspace 🌌

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📰 Δx change

For some space-themed changes/breakthroughs:

Hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I did writing it :) As always, thank you thank you thank you for reading and hope you learned something cool today 😊


Ellen X

Thanks for reading!

Woah, you’re still here? :0 if you’re still reading this, you’re a real one. have a great week ;)