Her hands shook when she got the call, the excitement so overwhelming it briefly kept her from calling her parents to give them the news.
After learning in 2017 that she was accepted to join NASA’s astronaut candidate class, Lt. Col. Jasmin Moghbeli felt her long desired dream of exploring the stars becoming a reality.
“A lot of my time in the Marine Corps, I think, is what set me up for this experience,” she told Military Times.
After years of training, the Marine test pilot-turned-astronaut will serve as the commander of NASA’s upcoming SpaceX Crew-7 mission to the International Space Station. The research mission is currently slated to launch August 17, according to Steve Stich, program manager of the commercial crew program.
The trip will be Moghbeli’s first to space. She follows in the footsteps of those like Col. Nicole Mann, another Marine test pilot who traded in her military flight suit for a space suit and led the SpaceX Crew-5 mission that launched in October 2022.
Many of the commercial crew missions have or are slated to be led by a current or former service member. In addition to those endeavors, other military personnel will soon be finding themselves leaving Earth’s atmosphere. In April, NASA announced a pair of Navy captains will command and pilot the Artemis II lunar mission.
Moghbeli, who will serve as an Expedition 69/70 flight engineer aboard the station, will be joined on the mission by pilot Andreas Mogensen of the European Space Agency, Japan’s Satoshi Furukawa and cosmonaut Konstantin Borisov.
Before signing up to become an explorer of the cosmos, Moghbeli, an AH-1W Super Cobra pilot and Marine Corps test pilot, completed over 150 combat missions and logged 2,000 hours of flight time in over 25 different aircraft.
Born in Germany — though she considers New York her hometown — Moghbeli partly credits her family’s journey from Iran in sparking her interest in service to the United States.
“I was interested in joining the military from a pretty young age,” she told Military Times. “I was also interested in becoming an astronaut from a pretty young age. Thankfully, those two things worked out together very well.”
Moghbeli commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps in 2005 and began her operational flying career in 2008 with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 367 “Scarface” at Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton, California.
“My time as a test pilot has served me very well,” Moghbeli said. “This is a time in space flight where we have more new vehicles and different vehicles then we’ve ever had before.”
For the Crew-7 mission, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft will launch from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
A SpaceX Crew-8 mission is planned for no earlier than February 2024.
Jonathan is a staff writer and editor of the Early Bird Brief newsletter for Military Times. Follow him on Twitter @lehrfeld_media