Supporting Black leaders in aerospace

Galactic Unite BLAST
Image by Virgin Galactic
Clare Kelly
by Clare Kelly
14 September 2021
In early 2021 Galactic Unite’s ‘Black Leaders in Aerospace Scholarship and Training’ (BLAST) program was announced.

BLAST is a scholarship, mentoring, and fellowship program for Black scholars pursuing a STEM education, with a focus on aerospace in the US.

This initiative was launched by Virgin Galactic, and supported by Virgin Hyperloop, Virgin Orbit, Virgin Unite, Planet, and AEye. BLAST sees scholars receive mentoring, paid summer internships, certified leadership, and skills training, plus job placement opportunities upon graduation.

Eden Ashebo is a verification engineering intern at Virgin Hyperloop and someone who has benefited from the BLAST program.

Eden was born in Ethiopia and moved to the US in 2016. She majored in Aerospace Science at college and after graduating was given the chance to join Virgin Hyperloop through the BLAST program.

Watch Virgin Hyperloop’s video about Eden’s journey and how she’s supporting the team’s verification work.

The BLAST program was designed to support incredible people like Eden – part of the next generation of Black leaders who will power the rapidly developing aerospace industry and help solve global challenges in the years to come.

At present, Black people make up 13.4% of the US population and 15.3% of American undergraduate and graduate students. However, a study by Aviation Week found that only 6% of US Aerospace and Defense workers are Black and when it comes to leadership positions. The same study found that only 3% of aerospace executives are Black.

The aerospace sector is missing out on the advantages brought by hiring, training, and empowering diverse groups of talented people to drive innovation. By actively creating opportunities, the goal of BLAST is to support Black scholars through the academic pipeline, to a successful early career placement and inspire a more diverse and inclusive aerospace industry.

The BLAST program builds on the success of previous and current Galactic Unite scholarship programs and initiatives that have focused on opening STEM career opportunities to students around the world. Galactic Unite is Virgin Galactic’s long-standing outreach initiative that is a collaboration between company employees, the Virgin Galactic Future Astronaut community, and Virgin Unite foundation.

Virgin Unite is proud to have worked alongside such incredible partners to establish BLAST. Learn more about Galactic Unite and the many scholarships they offer.