Javier Ocasio-Perez: Spacecraft Engineer
Updated: Jan 17, 2022
Meet Javier Ocasio-Perez
His Work: Integration & Test Manager at NASA
Javier Ocasio-Perez loved playing with Legos when he was young. It was fun to follow the directions and build something. Then came the best part. Taking it apart and making something new from the parts. Something he created. In a way, that’s what Javier does at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
NASA engineers like Javier are always learning about the parts of spaceships and equipment. What materials were used? What does each piece do? Then they get to be creative. They “reimagine” how the pieces could be used to make new equipment. How can they design and build equipment that can answer big questions? Is there life on Mars? How was the universe formed? How does the sun work?
Nobody builds a spaceship alone. Groups of scientists and engineers build pieces of a big project. Every group has to understand how their part fits and what it must do. Part of Javier’s job is to make sure that all those groups are being heard and understood. Mistakes could cost lives.
Javier also is in charge of testing. The spaceship must survive launch. It must work in the vacuum of space where there is no air. It must work in extreme cold. It must work in little or no gravity. Testing gives NASA confidence the mission will succeed. He is proud to have worked on the James Webb Space Telescope that was launched in December of 2021.
Javier is very thankful that somebody helped him get a summer internship at NASA. That led to him being hired. Now he works hard to make sure other Hispanics and minorities are also given help and opportunities. Javier serves on the Goddard Hispanic Advisory Committee to make sure minorities find out about internships. He tells people about careers at NASA. He helps minorities apply for job openings.
Javier is proud to be a Hispanic engineer at NASA. Some people are surprised that he speaks English with a Spanish accent. (English is his second language.) Some people are surprised that such a young person has so much responsibility. But Javier feels his accent and his youth are badges of honor. He wants to show others that they too can aim for the stars and become part of the NASA team.
Photo Credits: With permission from NASA
Read these books to learn more about space . . .
The Hubble Space Telescope: Our Eye on the Universe
by Terence Dickinson and Tracy Read
NASA's James Webb Space Telescope will be a successor to the Hubble Space Telescope. You can learn about the Hubble and previous telescopes in the beginning of this book, so you'll be ready to see images from the James Webb Space Telescope in 2022!
In The Hubble Space Telescope: Our Eye on the Universe, young readers find out how this groundbreaking telescope gathers imagery and transmits it to Earth. This book shares what Hubble has taught us about the universe and explains its top discoveries.
Your Place in the Universe
by Jason Chin
Jason Chin, the award-winning author and illustrator has once again found a way to make a complex subject--size, scale and almost unimaginable distance--accessible and understandable to readers of all ages. This book is meticulously researched and features the highly detailed artwork for which he is renowned. It will be an immediate hit with kids looking for an engaging way to delve into perspective, astronomy, and astrophysics. Curious readers will love the extensive supplementary material in the back matter.
. . . and visit these websites!
NASA's Space Communications and Navigation for kids - full of fun activities and games
Hubble vs Webb Space Telescopes - from NASA