Marine Corps Maj. Jasmin Moghbeli, who was a test pilot with
Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division’s Air Test and Evaluation
Squadron (VX) 31 from March 2014 to August 2015, was recently
selected for NASA’s 2017 Astronaut Candidate Class.
July 7, 2017 - U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Jasmin Moghbeli, a pilot
assigned to Marine Test and Evaluation Squadron (VMX) 1, conducts
her final flight in an AH-1 "Cobra" at Marine Corps Air Station
Yuma, Arizona.. Maj. Moghbeli reported to the Johnson Space Center
in Houston, Texas later in the year to attend the NASA Astronaut
Candidate Class of 2017. (U.S. Marine Corps photo taken by Lance
Cpl. Christian Cachola)
NASA received a record-breaking 18,300 applicants for the
2017 class, and it was the largest class selected since the
year 2000, with 12 slots. Moghbeli, who always dreamed of
being an astronaut, credits her vast military test
experience, including her time spent with VX-31, as one of
the reasons she was among those selected.
of being an astronaut is actually what led me to the
military,” she said, “and it was my experience as a Marine
that opened the door for this opportunity.”
New York native Moghbeli’s first impression of the desert
valley was, “Oh wow, this is different!” But as time went
on, she said she grew to love the area and the people.
During much of her time with VX-31 at China Lake,
Moghbeli worked as a project officer for the H-1 Weapon
Systems Support Activity, which was responsible for the
integration and evaluation of weapons, aircraft systems and
support systems for the attack and utility Marine Corps
helicopter mission. Most of her time was dedicated to the
Intrepid Tiger II pod, an electronic warfare pod that was
integrated into the UH-1 Yankee.
When the program
consolidated, moving the developmental test piece to
Patuxent River, Maryland and the operational piece to Yuma,
Arizona, Moghbeli was the last remaining pilot at China
Lake. She stayed to finish up her work on the IT II before
joining her H-1 team members in Arizona in August 2015.
“We had such a tight group in the H-1 program with the
pilots and engineers,” Moghbeli said. “I formed some really
good friendships and the people are what made it memorable.
We still keep in touch today.”
Axel Alvarez, former
engineering lead with the H-1 flight test team, remembered
Moghbeli as a “free spirit who was smart and fun to work
“She’s a great fit for the NASA program,”
Alvarez said. “We are all so proud of her and we feel like
she’s taken a little piece of China Lake with her.”
Applying to the NASA program was initially very simple:
submit a resume and five references. Moghbeli even solicited
a couple of her China Lake team members to apply with her.
And then the waiting began.
later, she started hearing from a few of her references and
she knew she was still in the running and questionnaires
were sent out to approximately 500 remaining candidates.
Moghbeli waited patiently through each phase, trying to
remain hopeful that she would make it to the next step. When
the initial interview process began, the candidate number
had been weeded down to only 120 applicants. During those
interviews, Moghbeli specifically pulled from her experience
as a test pilot and how it could contribute to NASA’s
A year after her initial application, NASA
had narrowed down their pool to only 50 applicants, and
Moghbeli was invited for a week long, in-person interview at
the Johnson Space Center.
The final call came May
25; Moghbeli had just gotten off a red-eye flight to
participate in a friend’s wedding.
“I was standing
outside the hotel with all of my bags and struggling to
answer the phone,” she recalled. “Three members of the
Astronaut Selection Board were on the other end and asked if
I still wanted to join the 2017 Astronaut Candidate Class.
Of course I said yes!”
Moghbeli will be required to
complete two years of extensive in-class training. Upon
completion, she will officially receive the title of
“astronaut” and be assigned a technical duty in the
astronaut office. Her duties could be in a variety of areas,
including robotics or operations with time spent working and
developing those important technical skills. The astronauts
will then be assigned a mission followed by training and
Although she will always be a part of
the Marine Corps, Moghbeli now feels like she’s become a
part of the NASA family and has been touched by the amount
of camaraderie she feels with the other astronaut selectees.
But as she follows her childhood dream and begins a new
journey with NASA, Moghbeli said she will always think
fondly of China Lake.
“China Lake is one of the most
special places,” she said. “Anytime I hear the mention of
China Lake or Ridgecrest, my ears perk up; it’s that place
that many don’t know about, but those who do, know what cool
stuff goes on out there.”
By Deidre Patin, Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division
The U.S. Marines
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