Crew 281 Crew biographies, photos and mission patch 14May2023
Ritupriya Patil, Executive Officer
Ritu is the Software Verification Operations Lead for Flight Controls at Joby Aviation in Santa Cruz, California. She has been testing the flight control systems for fixed wing, rotorcraft, and eVTOL aircrafts and has eight years of expertise in the aerospace industry. Ritu absolutely loves flight testing the electric air taxi she is currently working on. She is also involved in executing Control Law and Navigation Sensor tests using a range of software, processor in the loop, and hardware in the loop simulators representative of the eVTOL system. Ritu graduated with a master’s in aerospace engineering from UT Arlington, where she specialized in flight dynamics and controls. Outside of work, Ritu is an avid space enthusiast, and has completed multiple courses offered by the International Institute for Astronautical Sciences namely, Citizen Research Methods, Flight Test Engineering, Fundamentals of Astrodynamics, System Engineering for Human Space Flight. She has also collaborated on teaching Orbital Mechanics and Mission Simulation. Ritu is working on her private pilot’s license, and is an advanced open water diver. She is always working towards her dream to become an astronaut and set foot on Mars!
Ana Pires is a Researcher at INESC TEC’s Centre for Robotics and Autonomous Systems. She has a European Doctorate in Geosciences (Geological Resources and Geomaterials field), a MSc in Georesources and Geotechnics, and her background is Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering. She is involved in several sustainable sea/marine mining projects, geotechnologies, geoengineering, and georesources. Her research is focused on Space-Earth-Sea interaction, Space Resources, Space Mining, geotechnics, geophysics, and the development of geo-technologies or geo-robotics for Space exploration. She was also the first Portuguese woman to finish with success the Scientist-Astronaut Program, under the framework of Project PoSSUM (Polar Suborbital Science in the Upper Mesosphere) and the International Institute for Astronautical Sciences (IIAS), supported by the NASA’s Flight Opportunities. Ana Pires is a Specialist Diver (SSI Certification), and she is passionate about exploring extreme environments. Since 2018 she has made efforts to promote human space flight, astrogeology, technology, robotics, and STEAM outreach activities in Portugal. Currently, she is the Co-Chair of Knowledge Management of “Space For All Nations|SFAN”, an initiative developed under the scope of the IIAS. In January of 2023, she was nominated for the ACTIVA Awards “Inspiring Women” in the Science Category, by the ACTIVA MAGAZINE in Portugal.
KC Shasteen is an engineer and researcher who recently graduated from the University of Arizona. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Physics and Mathematics from Midwestern State University and a Master’s degree in Biosystems Engineering from the University of Arizona. His thesis work involved using a physiological model to predict plant growth in vertical farms, using machine vision to monitor growth, and growing crops to calibrate and verify the model. He also has publications and continues to research ways to optimize growing facility designs for improving yields by adjusting factors such as planting density and HVAC control decisions. His long-term goals are to apply his engineering skills to design, develop, and create closed-atmosphere growing systems for use in food production and bioregenerative life support systems for off-world bases and, with luck, to personally help deploy and operate such systems on Mars or elsewhere in the solar system.
Megan Kane is a space professional with the goal of going to Mars. With a decade in the space industry Megan is now pursuing her PhD in Biosystems Engineering at the University of Arizona. After completing her Masters of Science at the International Space University Megan continued to pursue opportunities including a rehab mission at MDRS, NASA’a HERA mission and the International Institute for Astronautical Sciences’s Citizen Science projects. Today she runs the Lunar Mars Greenhouse at the University of Arizona researching Bioregenerative Life Support.
Rachel “RC” Jones
Amateur Radio Operator. With a passion for space communication, RC is striving to increase community interest in amateur radio. RC is working to support STEM education in the field of radio science. She is working with Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) to develop new STEAM materials.
Space Enthusiast. RC joined Project PoSSUM in class 1901; she has participated in EDU 101 and AER 101. Following her dream, she earned her private pilot’s license and achieved Padi’s Master Scuba Diver’s training to understand the unique challenges and needs of spacesuits.
Interdisciplinary. RC is building upon a strong background in space science and cybersecurity. Her current endeavors are founded on an extensive academic background with a BA in Political Science from LaGrange College, a BS in Computer Networks and Cybersecurity from the University of Maryland Global Campus, an MSc in Space Management from the International Space University in Strasbourg, France, and a MA in Intelligence with a cyber focus from the American Military University. Currently, RC is pursuing a PhD in Aerospace Sciences from the University of North Dakota.
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