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Tess Hatch
Spotlight

Tess Hatch

MS ’17
Aeronautics and Astronautics
Story originally published on Aug 2021
Sally Ride, the first American female astronaut, went to the high school I attended years before me.

While I was a student, she came and spoke to our school and left me with this incredible feeling of inspiration. I wanted to follow in her footsteps and travel to space myself. 

My math teacher encouraged me to attend a women in engineering program at MIT the summer before my senior year, so I did. I loved the experience so much that I decided to continue pursuing engineering. The following summer I worked at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, where I grew up. I was lucky enough to witness the final preparations for the rover Curiosity before it was sent to Mars. 253 days later, the time it took the rover to reach Mars, I was invited back to be at Mission Control to watch its landing. 

I’ll never forget that experience. Because Mars is so far away, there was a seven-minute delay between the time of the rover’s landing and the time Earth received the news of whether or not the landing was a success. This period of time was called the Seven Minutes of Terror. 

For seven painstaking minutes, the hundreds of people who poured years of energy into the incredible feat of landing a craft on the Martian surface could only sit and wait for news. The fate of their work hung torturously in the air. 

And then it came. The rover sent back a photo of its own reflection on the surface of Mars. The room exploded into joyous applause. This was the very moment that convinced me to pursue aerospace engineering. 

After getting my Master’s in aerospace engineering at Stanford, I decided to go into venture capital. I didn’t even know what this was until my time here at Stanford, but my eyes have been opened to the impact I can have as an investor to help push emerging space companies and technologies forward. I still hope to travel to space myself someday.

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