From Gaza to Nasa – How Soha Alqeshawi was Offered to Join NASA

We can never get enough inspiring stories about women empowering the job that used to be depicted as a man’s job. But today we see another woman making history: Soha Alqeshawi. She’s a remarkable Palestinian woman showing the world what she’s worth when she was offered to join NASA Space shuttle program right after graduation. NASA was eager to have her in their team. Up to then it had been her dream to be an engineer sending spacecraft into space. It was a perfect match.

She first worked on the shuttle as a data processing system engineer and then later as a communication and tracking system engineer until the Space Shuttle program had retired in 2011. That same year Soha and her fellow NASA engineers began the work needed to build Orion. Orion, a multi-purpose crew vehicle program (MPCV), is NASA’s new spacecraft. It’s designed to carry astronauts to destinations in deep space, beyond there where humans have ever gone before: to asteroids or even Mars.

After Orion’s successful two-orbit four-and-a-half-hour unmanned flight test in December 2014, Soha and her colleagues focused on the next step of the operation: sending a crew of six astronauts into space. Beyond the orbit of the moon, with hopes of going to an asteroid by 2025 and to Mars by the 2030s.

She was very passionate about her dream and she wanted to see other girls achieve their own dreams too. On NASA Facebook page, she gave her advice to girls from all over the world. She asked them to set big goals and to go for them: My advice to young girls around the world: always have a dream, dream big, and work really hard to make your dream come true. Mine did.”

Despite the constant conflict in Palestine, growing up in Gaza city with a population of nearly two million people in a small area of about 365 km². The area is filled with conflicts happening most of the time. Conflicts that deprive people from having the basic necessities like water and electricity. However, none of this stopped her from achieving her dream to be who she wanted to be. Her troublesome environment did not drain or depress her. It did not keep her from achieving her goals. Instead she became a determined woman, setting conceited goals for herself and putting all of her energy together in order to reach them.

She graduated as one of the best of her class with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering from the University of Houston in Texas. She is also a mother of three. She’s happily married to another Palestinian from Gaza, who is also working with NASA. She is thankful to have grown up in a family that encouraged her to work hard and to have big dreams. If it weren’t for them, she would have ended up growing up and just watching the lift-offs. She might have never discovered that she will be part of the team that sent the Orion spacecraft into space.

Written by Hanna Lockman

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Describe by friends as a loving, bubbly, poetic soul, traveller and smiley person. She loves inspirational stories and to inspire others. A bookworm and especially enjoy reading old books collected by her father. Consistent learner of the religion she believe in, islam. Active volunteer with various NGO and a founder of islamic apparel in Malaysia