Wednesday, August 5, 2020

The first Iranian-American astronaut says that space brings diplomacy and unites us

Jasmin Moghbeli recently celebrated her astronaut graduation from Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. The Iranian-American, now-astronaut, had a lot to say about space travel bringing peace and diplomacy. Jasmin “Jaws” Moghbeli earned her proud nickname when she served in the Marine Corps, where she flew more than 150 missions as a helicopter gunship pilot in Afghanistan.

She had graduated from MIT, where she was a basketball player and studied aeronautical engineering, and is now a proud Iranian-American NASA Astronaut, a uniting feat surrounding the tensions between the two countries right now.

Moghbeli told AFP, “I would love for everyone to be able to be inspired by everyone, but it is a little easier to be inspired by someone who looks like you or has something in common with you, so I do hope there is that influence.”

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Mogbheli’s parents fled Iran after the 1979 Islamic Revolution with her and her brother. She was born in Germany, and so was her brother. She then grew up in Baldwin, New York, eventually attending a space camp at the age of 15 that sparked her space-traveling ambitions. She chose to become a military pilot, which is how many astronauts were made. Moghbeli joined in 2005 and her parents were concerned about how she would be treated being an Iranian.

But once I joined, they gave me absolute support.

Jasmin Moghbeli to AFP

Space ambitions unite humanity

Being an Iranian-American, Jasmin Mogbheli is in a unique situation where the tensions between the countries are very high. President Donald Trump canceled the Iran Nuclear Deal and even ordered a drone strike to kill the top Iranian commander, Qasem Soleimani. Iran retaliated by launching a missile attack against US bases in Iraq, where a passenger plane carrying civilians was shot down accidentally, killing everyone on-board.

However, Mogbheli says that this has not affected how people were to her. She told AFP, “I haven’t in any way felt that changed anything about how I’m treated.” She says that space travel and exploration brings peace and diplomacy. She even took the example of the US and Russia, and how working together for the International Space Station has brought diplomacy between the two countries, where tensions are usually high.

She says, “One of the reasons I love working in human space exploration is, it’s something we generally all agree on and unite on. I think it is an area where we see diplomacy where we don’t see it in other areas. I think it has an impact.”

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