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21st November, 2018

Women in Human Space Flight


Event Details

21st November, 2018
18:00 - 19:00
Jennison Lecture Theatre (JLT)

Libby Jackson is a rare female leader in the upper echelons of a field suffering from an intense gender imbalance.

Recent research reveals that women only make up 21% of the workforce in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) industries. On the ground, the space industry is also subject to issues such as gender inequality and internationally the sector is male-dominated. In this talk, and in order to pay tribute to some of the inspirational women who have been instrumental in space flight history, Libby will present stories of female space pioneers, including the UK’s first astornaut, Helen Sharman.

“There are so many wonderful women in the industry, but we need more,” she says. “A lot of people can name the first man in space but women have been a hugely important part right back at the beginning. It is important for everyone to understand that men and women have a role in space.”


Libby Jackson’s enthusiasm for space travel started young, when, as a seven-year-old, she wrote a Travel Guide to Mars. Aged fifteen she attended Space School before choosing A-Levels in Physics, Maths, Further Maths and Music. She developed an interest in human spaceflight aged seventeen, after shadowing a flight director at NASA Johnson Space Center.

She went on to complete a BSc in Physics at Imperial College London in 2002 and an MEng in Astronautics and Space Engineering at Cranfield University in 2003.After graduating from Cranfield, Jackson worked as a graduate engineer at EADS Astrium. From 2007, Libby Jackson worked at Europe’s control centre for the International Space Station (ISS) as a flight instructor and controller.  She became director for the ISS European Space Agency (ESA) Columbus Module in 2010. Jackson joined the UK Space Agency in 2014 and became spokesperson for Tim Peake’s mission to the ISS. She had previously met Peake when working at the NASA Johnson Space Center, just after he had been selected by ESA.

In 2016 and 2018, Jackson spoke at the National Student Space Conference, hosted by UK Students for the Exploration and Development of Space, the UK’s national student space society. She coordinated the UK Space Agency education and outreach programme for Peake’s mission. Today, she is the manager of Human Spaceflight and Microgravity.After the lecture, there will be an opportunity to purchase signed copies of Libby’s book: ‘A Galaxy of Her Own: Amazing Stories of Women in Space’.

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