National Hispanic Heritage Month: Vanessa Aponte Williams, Aerospace Engineer

In the time since she began working for Lockheed Martin Corporation as a senior systems engineer in 2006, Vanessa Aponte Williams has been significantly involved in that company’s initiatives on behalf of human spaceflight. As Lockheed Martin’s senior manager for ascent element mission operations, for example, she oversees the development of integrated systems to help train both astronauts and flight controllers for journeys into outer space.  

Williams was born in the town and municipality of Lajas in southwestern Puerto Rico in 1974. She received her B.S. and M.S. in chemical engineering from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez and earned a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering sciences from the University of Colorado Boulder. Williams also has the distinction of having been a finalist in 2009 and 2012 for the astronaut selection interview process at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.

Photo Credit: Dr.VDdubz (licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license at  

Additional information on Vanessa Aponte Williams and other Puerto Ricans involved in the U.S. space program is available at

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