Vandenberg Officer Pursues Space Passion

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Joshua LeRoi
  • Space Launch Delta 30 Public Affairs

One Vandenberg officer has taken a distinct step toward her dream of space exploration by attending an analog astronaut mission, a program that simulates an environment like Mars or the moon.


The journey to space is daring and strenuous, and requires advanced training to those willing to venture on topics like payload deployment, life support systems, and space medicine, all simulated during the HI-SEAS program.


2nd Lt. Allaire Morgan, 30th Digital Transformation Office integration lead, participated in the Hawai’i Space Exploration Analog & Simulation (HI-SEAS) program for 13 days, which simulated space-like conditions. She worked as the Vice Commander of the “FORGED IN FIRE” mission alongside a diverse 6-member crew of researchers, medical professionals, and astronaut candidate hopefuls.


"The HI-SEAS program is essentially a research facility where you go for a specific mission length to simulate ‘being an astronaut’ on an extraterrestrial base, and the work you do contributes to the existing knowledge base on human spaceflight," said Morgan. "You never know how you're going to perform in an environment like that until you put yourself in one."


The HI-SEAS program introduces applicants to an isolated Mars or moon-like landscape on Hawai’i, with rocky terrain, consistent seismic events, and very little plant or animal life. Morgan and her crew was met with various challenges like extreme isolation in a self-sustaining habitat, dealing with space-like communications that include delays and limits to accessible content, conducting geological surveys and complex science experiments under the stress of analog crew schedules, and simulating procedures like airlock entrances that reflect the environmental challenges of living in space.


Morgan found herself infatuated with the cosmos as a kid, pushing the limits of her learning abilities, choosing to spend her free time gathering a stack of space books to read, sometimes more than she was allowed to check out from the library.


"I have always been somewhat of a space enthusiast," said Morgan. "I was always really interested in learning about our solar system and the universe we live in and what it means to explore that."


Morgan used her passion for space studies to find the HI-SEAS program by her own means, with encouragement from her leadership team.


“With 2nd Lt. Morgan’s participation in HI-SEAS she learned foundational test, experimentation, and evaluation skills that will be applicable in any Space Force opportunity,” said Derek Eichin, 30th Digital Transformation Office chief data officer. “The planning, preparation, and processes she had to execute better prepare her for performing in very austere environments with multiple independent teams to collaborate and grow with.”


Spending time in a moon-like environment 2500 meters above sea level marked one small step toward becoming an astronaut and discovering if she had the endurance to achieve such a goal.


"After finishing the program, I feel super inspired by my crew’s path to space and their motivation to become either a NASA astronaut or do so through commercial means," said Morgan. “The empowerment that the Space Force gives to junior officers to find professional experiences like this has been awesome.”


Morgan joined the Air Force ROTC out of a desire to follow in her father’s footsteps and serve in the military. After the U.S. Space Force was established, Morgan quickly honed in on a space-related career path. She would ask questions to professors about space technology while working on her electrical & systems engineering degrees from the University of Pennsylvania; she also co-founded the Philadelphia i5 chapter at AFROTC Detachment 750 to deepen her foundational knowledge of the space domain, and mentored younger cadets hoping to pursue space-related careers. One month before her commissioning, Morgan received a call that she would report to Vandenberg SFB as an officer in the Space Force. Now, with almost 2 years under her belt as an engineer in the 2d Space Launch Squadron, Morgan serves as the integration lead in the SLD 30 Digital Transformation Office, and she sits on the leadership board for the Junior Guardians Forum.


"I think there's a lot of conversations to be had about what a Guardian in space looks like, what that means for the Space Force, and what that means for human spaceflight," said Morgan. “One thing is abundantly clear to me: the type of person the Space Force recruits and Vandenberg develops is an irreplaceable asset to the space community.”