We are always aware that suddenly and unexpectedly we may find ourselves in a role where our performance has ultimate consequences.April Blackwell
April Blackwell, an Aerospace Engineer and life-long astronaut hopeful who flies the International Space Station from NASA Mission Control, shared the story behind her title with us on Sunday, July 26, 2020.
April has worked at NASA for 7 years but has been obsessed with space since kindergarten – when she made up her mind to become an astronaut. A diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes at age 11 seemed like an insurmountable roadblock – Type 1 Diabetes is an automatic disqualification on the astronaut application. But instead of giving up she doubled down – learning Russian in high school, studying hard in math, and receiving a full-ride scholarship to attain an Aerospace Engineering degree.
In her aerospace career, April has flown more than 250 hours in experimental Army aircraft and passed qualifications in the Army Special Operations helicopter dunker program, altitude chamber and parachute course – all of which normally preclude Type 1 Diabetic participants. Since NASA flight controller certification she has acquired almost 2,600 console hours in Mission Control, responsible for piloting the ISS. April hasn’t given up on her ultimate dream of becoming an astronaut, but she has added an extra challenge – to be the first T1D in space!
She is passionate about sharing her experiences to inspire fellow T1Ds and anyone with a barrier, to push boundaries in the pursuit of their dreams.
Many of us have dreams of what we want to be when we grow up, but very few follow up on that dream from the age of 5. April decided at 5 that she wanted to be an astronaut. When a diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes derailed her dream (temporarily), she decided she would at the very least pursue a career in aerospace, work directly with astronauts, and continue to hope and dream that one day she will travel to space. I’m betting she will.