El Paso native plays big role in Artemis I launch
EL PASO, Texas - Yvonne Villegas-Aguilera, born and raised in El Paso, is a trailblazer within the NASA community. She's the first member of her family to graduate college, she was a McNair Scholar and has not one, but two degrees- a bachelor's in chemistry and a master's in aerospace engineering. Now, Villegas-Aguilera is the branch chief for the solid propulsion and pyro devices branch for NASA.
Her role at NASA is an important one, as she oversees the design and assembly of the rocket motor and booster parts, which are used to give the massive spacecraft enough boost to get it into space. She worked on the Artemis I and Ares I-X while at NASA.
On November 15, the unmanned Artemis I successfully launched into space and is currently heading toward the moon. This is the first Artemis program launch, and if the mission is successful, NASA plans to send "the first woman and person of color to the moon to the lunar surface in 2025," according to a press release.
“I am proud to say I was a part of helping get to this day,” Villegas-Aguilera wrote on a Facebook post after the launch. “I work with such a great team and look forward to many more missions to come,” she said in the press release.
Villegas-Aguilera was raised by her grandparents and went to Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio for her bachelor's degree and the University of Alabama at Huntsville for her master's degree.