Women Making Weather Satellite History

You’ve seen and heard the stories of women making strides in space exploration.

“I look at the women who paved the way for us to get where we are today,” said Dr. Jamese Sims, the GOES-R program products manager for NOAA Satellites and NASA Goddard.  “And it’s just extremely amazing the power they had to actually keep going and to be resilient.”

These are career fields that had challenges for females decades ago.

“Initially when I was in meetings, when I was involved, it was all men,” said Vanessa Griffin, the director of NOAA Satellites and Product Operations.  “There was very few women ever that you would see either at my level or even above me.”

But for the NOAA Satellites GOES-R mission, there are women leading the way and playing important roles in this moment of satellite history.

“I helped develop the grounds system that you see here in the building,” Griffin explained.  “Getting it ready to operate the satellites.”

It was Samantha Edgington who was Lockheed Martin’s Chief Engineer for the Geostationary Lightning Mapper.

“Being able to take all the testing on the ground and predict how it’s going to work in the end, it’s amazing to me,” Edgington said.

And without the “green light” from Pam Sullivan, the GOES-S satellite launch would not have been able to take place.

“When we take the spacecraft to internal power, then I give the go to NASA and then to ULA and then we start the real mission,” said Sullivan, the manager of the GOES-R Program Flight Project for NASA Goddard.

There are also women who manage research and development with the images and data coming back from the satellites at places such as the National Severe Storms Lab and NASA Goddard.

“I think as we go forward, we’re beginning to show we are just as strong as men,” said Dr. Kristin Calhoun, a meteorologist at NOAA’s National Severe Storms Lab.  “We can be at the same table and have the same discussions.”

Calhoun added they are not just leaders, but mentors as well.

“I had a young girl, a 6th grader come up to just talk to me about what she can do to have a similar career and it was kind of exciting for me,” Calhoun said.

These women, and many more, continue to pave the way in Women’s History.

“What I really hope is that for future generations for young girls now it will be really boring to see women in science and engineering because there will be so many,”  Edgington said.

Joining forces as a team and setting the bar even higher for future generations.

“It really shows what happens when we all work together and we are more conclusive,” said Sims.  “We all have something to contribute to our nation.”

“The younger of women today are not in any way intimidated by the history of this being a sort of a male dominated industry and so they are taking every job, every science job, every engineering job,”  Sullivan said.  “You work hard, you do your best and you can do what you want to do.”

For WeatherNation, I’m Meteorologist Meredith Garofalo