The first African-American to lead Mission Control is working shifts as a flight director for the International Space Station. Kwatsi Alibaruho completed more than 700 hours of training and began active duty in August.
Since the beginning of America’s space program,only 58 people have directed human space flight missions. The flight director class of 2005 is the second largest ever appointed and the most diverse.
The nine-member group also includes three women and two Hispanics.
Leading a team of flight controllers, support personnel and engineering experts, a flight director has the overall responsibility to manage and carry out space shuttle flights and International Space Station expeditions. A flight director also leads and orchestrates planning and integration activities with flight controllers, payload customers, space station partners and others.
“I’m humbled and honored to serve in the capacity of flight director,” said Alibaruho,who spent his childhoodin Oakland, Calif., and Atlanta. “I love the diversity of challenges inspace exploration and in mission operations,” he added. Alibaruho’s father, economist Dr.George Alibaruho, is from Uganda, while his mother, Dr. Gloria Alibaruho, is from Macon, Ga. Several of his siblings also were born in Uganda.
“I caught the ‘science bug’ very early from watching science fiction programs, and I wanted to learn about real science,” Alibaruho said. Every chance he had, he signed up for extracurricular activities and seminars where he dedicated weekends and summers to further his knowledge of science and engineering.
Alibaruho earned a bachelor’s degree in avionics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass. Despite his intense interest in science, he never thought of working at NASA until an opportunity arose through the cooperative education program at NASA’s Johnson Space Center inHouston.
As a full-time NASA employee, Alibaruho became certified as a flight controller and accepted increasing levels of responsibility. He was deputy chairman of the Orbital Space Plane Source Evaluation Board’s operations committee, and immediately before his selection as a flight director was group lead for the International Space Station Life Support Systems Group. He already has logged 2,850 hours of experience working in Mission Control.
He said he looks forward to the challenges ahead while NASA pursues exploration to the moon, Mars and beyond as part of the Vision for Space Exploration.
“There is nothing about my job that is routine,” Alibaruho said, “There is something unique and challenging to hold my interest every day. I’m excited about the prospect of working on new projects and going through the process of figuring out how to do long-duration space exploration missions,” he added.
NASA embraces diversity as a leadership philosophy and management practice geared toward maximizing potential at the individual level and facilitating high performance at the organizational level. The agency is committed to advancing a workplace culture that promotes open communication and encourages new ideas and perspectives to achieve the Vision for Space Exploration.
The Uganda Diaspora Network is a forum aimed at bringing together Ugandans who live and work abroad by celebrating their contributions overseas and also encouraging them to give of their time, talents, ideas and expertise whilst inspiring the next generation of Ugandan leaders.
Every year the Ugandan Diaspora Network will organize an annual Social Networking Gala and will also produce a quarterly publication highlighting the successes of the various Ugandans residing overseas. Please send us those inspirational stories and philanthropic work involving Ugandans abroad. We shall share these stories using this platform that is rapidly growing and expanding. The Next Diaspora Social Networking Gala will be Held on 30th December 2016 at The Kampala Serena Hotel.
Congratulations Kwatsi Alibaruho. You have put our Uganda on the map.
Very proud of my son Mukwatsibwoha (Kwatsi) whose graduation at Rice University with MBA on May 13 and my daughter Selina Alibaruho at Purdue University with MBA are the reasons I am visiting from Kabale University in scenic southwestern Uganda.
Kwatsi and Uncle G through you I have learnt that we can do bigger things for this country.
I am so well placed in the circles of brain excellence. Bravo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
RIP Prof George.
At least you lived to see your children’s success
Kwatsi makes an entire immigrant community proud. He is a great inspiration and and indeed an icon of great achievement if full thought and will is placed in the right place.
Kwatsi son of the soil, very well done. After reading your amazing story I realised there was also much you could do inspire young Ugandans to aspire to greater success in the sciences and mathematics. You will find a lot of willingness from many people including non scientists to start programmes that seek to to identify and nurture exceptional young science and maths talent back home. Its the least you could do for the country that gave you what America and NASA would never give you. It wont even cost you a dollar of your own money to do this. We are all so proud of you!.
You have inspired many of us.
kwatsi you lighted up uganda to new horizons
KWATSI,thanks for putting us(ugandans) on the map.we are proud of you.
its my plessure to have u do what most pple donot expect frm africans.
am in Iraq but when I see the technology I feel challenged.
Thanks for the great work to our nation ug bro.
God bless u.
Kwatsi, Uganda is proud of you, your parents are proud of you. It touches us that one of our very own can do such mighty exploits. You had no choice but to be a genius because your father’s CV is equally impressive. God’s blessings and protection.
Kwatsi, i have read up on you. People like you are so inspirational, amazing and make us proud. From a London based Detective Constable (born Uganda). Happy New Year.
Kwaisi makes us Africans very proud, i never believed it till i met Mzee Justus Alibariho on a party and he told us the real story. Africans can even do much better..
Bravo, one day i’ll come over for a tour to the space.
wow…Sir i am really inspired ,,i have a dream of being an aerospace engineer and working in NASA one day…and am encouraged to see a Ugandan there…i BELIEVE i will make it as well
hi sir i would like to visit nasa’s space center if god wish and if possible you can send me your email address i have some question to ask you nice time
You have inspired many people. God bless you. Unfortunately, your Dad Prof. George has gone too soon this morning of 30th March 2016