Miss England takes giant leap towards showing space is for everyone

Jessica Gagen hopes to one day fly in space (Picture: SWNS)

Miss England winner Jessica Gagen has taken the controls of a spaceship in her mission to become an astronaut – after being invited to the United States by Nasa.

The 27-year-old rocket scientist wants to be the first beauty queen in space after graduating from the University of Liverpool with a degree in aerospace engineering.

She is now one small step closer to fulfilling her dream after being able to ‘fly’ a Boeing Starliner spaceship at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Jessica was invited to the US by Nasa to be a keynote speaker at the Ascend conference in Las Vegas, bringing together space companies, government leaders, students and enthusiasts.

After giving her speech promoting women and children in STEM subjects, Jessica was able to spend a day in the life of a Nasa astronaut.

She went behind the scenes with Boeing employees, who are designing and building a space shuttle, and got to sample flying the Starliner spacecraft simulator.

Florida Space Coast engineer Armando Loli gives Jessica a demonstration on the Starliner Virtual Reality system (Picture: Boeing/SWNS)

Jessica was also given a VIP tour of the Kennedy Space Centre and was able to watch two rocket launches from Florida’s Space Coast to top off her dream trip.

‘This trip is everything an aerospace engineer could have ever dreamed of,’ said Jessica, from Skelmersdale in Lancashire.

Jessica is fitted for astronaut seat (Picture: Boeing/SWNS)
Jessica outside Nasa’s Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) (Picture: Jessica Gagen/SWNS)

‘Having been one of only a handful of girls studying aerospace engineering at my university, I made it my mission to promote how exciting the sector is and diminish stereotypes surrounding what engineers do – and look like, which subsequently saw me scouted for Miss England.

‘I feel incredibly blessed.’

Jessica signs the Starliner Pad Abort spacecraft (Picture: Boeing/SWNS)

Jessica became the first redhead winner of the prestigious beauty pageant last October and is now one of the favourites to win Miss World.

‘Every contestant at Miss World has a beauty with a purpose project which she aims to use her platform to promote,’ she said.

Jessica touring the Kennedy Space Center (Picture: SWNS)

‘Mine is called The STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) project – I’m passionate about educating the next generation about the different types of engineering, the different industries STEM subjects can lead to and the skills engineering can equip candidates with.

‘In the future I’d love to be able to inspire a new generation of scientists and engineers through presenting educational TV documentaries.

Jessica graduated from the University of Liverpool with a degree in aerospace engineering (Picture: Jessica Gagen/Miss England/SWNS)

‘Aside from this I’m super interested starting a career concerning all things new technology – and would jump at the chance to go to space if offered the opportunity.’

Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft has made two uncrewed test flights in 2019 and 2022.

The first flight failed to reach the ISS as planned but the 2022 effort made it there and back to Earth.

Jessica will compete in the 71st Miss World in Mumbai, India, in March.

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