Loretta Hidalgo Whitesides
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Loretta Hidalgo Whitesides knew she had to be on the ocean expedition when Titanic director, James Cameron, came to NASA looking for astrobiologists willing to participate in his latest documentary. With a master’s degree in biology from Caltech, a bachelor's degree in biology from Stanford University, and a passion for exploration and space travel that predates kindergarten, Whitesides was set to go on her two mile journey down to the bottom of the ocean. The resulting IMAX documentary, Aliens of the Deep, was released in 2005.

Since then, she has been a flight director for Zero Gravity Corporation, floating weightless over 700 times on their 727 aircraft. An expert in the field of human space exploration, she also blogs daily on the topic of space for Wired Science network, leads workshops on launching your own career in space for undergraduates, and is director of the U.S. operation for the Space Generation Advisory Council.

Whitesides is executive director of the organization, Yuri’s Night, an annual world-wide space party that honors Yuri Gagarin, the first human in the first launched space shuttle. The event, created with her husband, George, was celebrated on April 12, 2007 with over 120 cities in over 30 countries participating. Last year's theme, "Space Explorers Love Earth Too," resulted in over 8,000 trees being planted. They are hoping to create a holiday that will be celebrated “10,000 years into the future.”

Whitesides and her husband are planning the first ever space honeymoon on Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo. A leader and pioneer in the space generation community, she is passionate about bringing together people who want to use space to make a difference for our planet.