NASA’s first female launch director to lead countdowns during Artemis missions to the moonMore

MELBOURNE, Fla. – More than 30 years ago as a wide-eyed Clemson University senior, Charlie Blackwell-Thompson walked into Firing Room 1 at Kennedy Space Center – a historically male-dominated setting – hoping to land a job testing software for space shuttle payloads.

Today, Blackwell-Thompson commands that firing room. As NASA’s first female launch director, she’ll lead the countdown when the ambitious Artemis missions propel the next American astronauts to the moon – including the first woman. 

“It’s kind of ironic and wonderful at the same time. I came into this room, Firing Room 1. They were getting space shuttle Discovery ready to fly after the Challenger accident, so it was STS-26 (in September 1988),” Blackwell-Thompson recalled, seated at her station overlooking dozens of

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