Voyaging the New Horizons of Space-based Research and Travel
The endless space has always enticed us humans, with endless possibilities and opportunities. The mere thought that there might be people like us or different from us sharing this universe, is enough to get one excited to explore. With the kind of development we have been making in science and technology, it doesn’t sound a distant dream that one will be able to plan a vacation to Moon or Mars.
However, before a dream comes true, it must be seen, not in deep slumber but with eyes wide open. In 2006, Julia Hunter, a PhD in Astrophysics from the University of Manchester and Co-founder of District Commons, a US non-profit organization, moved to London. This was to start a career in commercial space-flight with Virgin Galactic when the company was a relatively small startup.
She listened to Sir Richard Branson explain how this startup would put a product on the market for the public to experience space-flight and see the earth from the vantage of space. Julia became enamoured with this idea of space for everyone and has since poured nearly every ounce of her efforts into its success. She expresses, “There has been no clear-cut roadmap for the path I have paved, but it continues to be the most extraordinary journey.”
“Both professionally and personally, I am passionate about exploration.”
Finding New Horizons
Julia’s career has taken her from astrophysics and academia to helping operate the world’s first publicly traded commercial space-line company which recently began trading on the NYSE. Before joining Virgin Galactic, she co-founded District Commons which served as a network of resources dedicated to building community and collaboration to catalyse and advancing society.
During and after college, she engrained herself into aerospace, attending conferences, becoming a member of the National Space Society, International Association of Astronomical Artists, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Women in Aerospace, and working various projects with ESA and NASA.
Virgin Galactic is the world’s first commercial space-line for private astronauts. Julia explains, “Our business aim has always been to Change the World for Good, and we do that from how we operate and treat our teammates, to how we are opening access to space.”
Being the Senior Vice President for a company which aims to change humanity’s relationship with its home planet, is both a privilege and pleasure for Julia. Her responsibilities include the management of a senior staff team, organizational operations, and ensuring that safety and regulatory compliance is met.