With her urge to explore and love for entertaining people, Juniper Jairala used to build international theme parks (while secretly performing in Samba shows by night); now she develops rockets and spacecraft (while fire dancing by night). In 2004, she received a Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering/Bioastronautics from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Since leaving Colorado, she has worked in various settings including the Johnson Space Center in Houston where she worked with biomedical hardware and ground-based research related to astronaut health. She has worked at the X PRIZE Foundation in Santa Monica, California supporting prize research and the X PRIZE Cup Flight Operations, at Space Exploration Technologies in El Segundo, California as a crew systems engineer, and most recently at Andrews Space in Seattle developing a crew/cargo transportation system to the International Space Station. This past year she also began working part-time for the Zero Gravity Corporation coaching their flying customers through awesome experiences in weightlessness, and training part-time with the professional contemporary dance company, Open Flame Dance Theater.
Another passion of Jairala's is encouraging girls (like she once was) and minorities (like she is) to feel inspired to pursue technology fields. She currently volunteers as a Mentor with two Seattle programs: GEMS (Girls in Engineering. Math, and Science) for 7th/8th graders, and MESA (Mathematics, Engineering, and Science Achievement) for African-American, Native American, Latino and female middle/high school students. She likes showing kids how cool/easy it is to be a geek, as she once was (and probably still is), and how achievable it really is to work at cool places like NASA (like she did). It's not like you have to start the Star Trek Fan Club at your high school or anything (who, me?)…
Jairala feels most human when expressing herself through dance, as her body gets moved involuntarily by music. She will: proudly and animatedly quote Eddie Murphy's Delirious word-for-word; skydive; fly airplanes; swing through the air on stunt harnesses in dance clubs; dance on a cage suspended from a crane in front of thousands in the middle of the desert; and strip out and replace her car's engine with her own two hands. Fire dancer, rocket scientist, and multi-lingual world-traveler, Jairala seeks thrills, fun, and challenges in every aspect of her life. She hopes to go to space one day in a vehicle that she helped build.