NASA’s Artemis program, set to land the first woman and next man on the lunar surface by 2024, also will establish an unprecedented, sustainable presence around the Moon with Gateway, an orbital staging point for lunar excursions and deep space exploration missions to come.
Among the men and women who make up Gateway’s diverse and dedicated development team is Ginger Flores, manager of the Habitation Systems Development Office at Marshall Space Flight Center.
Flores, a Huntsville native, was born in 1969 – the same year Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first human beings to walk on the Moon – so she doesn’t dismiss the idea that her NASA career was predestined. “Growing up in Rocket City, I was surrounded by symbols of NASA,” she said. “Working at NASA became my dream job since I was a small child.”
While attending the University of Alabama in Huntsville, one of Flores’ professors reinforced her childhood passion during his classes when he used real-life examples from his day job – supporting the International Space Station. Flores earned her bachelor’s and master’s from UAH in industrial and systems engineering in 1993 and 1998, respectively.
She began her NASA career in 2002 at Marshall, where she managed several innovative projects that helped astronauts work and perform research in a confined space while in orbit.
“Solving problems that made work easier for astronauts was an experience that really cemented my desire to work for NASA,” she said.
Flores now oversees development of concepts and design solutions for Gateway habitation systems, integrating plans for where the crew will live, work and spend their free time while they pursue long-duration stays on the lunar surface – and eventually embark for new missions of discovery on Mars.
“I’m proud to be an early member of the Gateway Program, which crosses many centers at the agency and brings folks together with a diverse set of experiences and backgrounds,” she said.
Her love for all things space and NASA extends to her personal life. She enjoys underwater exploration, which she says brings her closest to the sensation of being an astronaut. “There is a sense of peace and rejuvenation that comes with diving that is hard to duplicate,” she said.
Flores is married to Anthony Flores, her high school sweetheart, and is an animal lover who makes a home for rescued senior dogs, including a recent addition that rode out the Nashville tornadoes of 2020 under an interstate highway bridge.