Senior Madi Moore is working as an intern in NASA’s History Office. Madi Moore | Courtesy

One might expect a physics or math major to intern at National Aero­nautics and Space Admin­is­tration Head­quarters in Wash­ington, D.C., but senior Madi Moore is proving that English majors can do important work in the space industry, as well.

As a par­tic­ipant of the Wash­ington-Hillsdale Internship Program this semester, Moore works in the NASA History Office, which is part of the Office of Com­mu­ni­ca­tions. Moore said that being an English major fre­quently comes in handy on the job.

“It’s excellent,” Moore said of the internship. “It’s a great oppor­tunity for any human­ities major.”

She writes posts for NASA’s social media pages and assists with pub­li­ca­tions, which can include helping copy editors look through primary doc­u­ments and making sure copy­right data is sub­mitted to the Library of Con­gress.

In addition, she some­times helps with social events, such as a recent Inter­na­tional Space Station Day, where she greeted and helped people with reg­is­tration and was

also able to attend talks about NASA history and meet some astro­nauts.

She wrote an article for the history office’s quar­terly newsletter, giving her a rare oppor­tunity to conduct research within the NASA archives. Her article explained the history of cen­trifugal space sta­tions, which are shaped like wheels to produce arti­ficial gravity with cen­trifugal force, both in reality and in science fiction.

“That’s def­i­nitely where my English major has chiefly come in,” Moore said. “But you would be sur­prised how long it takes to write a well-researched, inter­esting Facebook post. You have to be accurate or people will call you out, and you have to be inter­esting or people won’t read it.”

Moore’s research on NASA’s history has led her to dis­cover several inter­esting stories, but she said one was par­tic­u­larly intriguing. In early mis­sions on the Inter­na­tional Space Station, astro­nauts drank pow­dered coffee, cus­tomized with their pre­ferred amounts of cream and sugar, which they mixed with water.

However, Italian astro­nauts missed the espresso they were used to having back home and objected to the pow­dered mixture. This led an Italian company to invent an espresso machine that works in zero gravity, and an Italian astronaut made a cup that also worked in space.

“I thought it was hilarious how exten­sively the Italians were invested in their espresso,” Moore said.

Moore found the internship after searching online for an oppor­tunity at NASA and said it wasn’t easy to find. She added that she was inspired by recent movies she watched that made her want to work at NASA despite not being a science major.

“I saw ‘Inter­stellar’ my freshman year,” Moore said. “It made me think whether I should be a physics major. The movie reminded me of the wonder that I felt when I was a kid and wanted to be the first woman on the moon, and how much I liked space.” She said that watching “The Martian” was sim­i­larly enlight­ening.

“I was very intrigued by that movie because it rep­re­sented indi­viduals at NASA who were not sci­en­tists, like admin­is­trators and com­mu­ni­cation officers,” Moore said. “I was sur­prised to realize there must be a lot of jobs at NASA that were not sci­en­tists. That’s basi­cally where I started my search.”

Assistant Pro­fessor of English Benedict Whalen, Moore’s aca­demic adviser, praised her thought­fulness in pur­suing this internship. He said an English major working NASA may seem unex­pected, but didn’t strike him as too sur­prising.

“She was uniting seem­ingly dis­parate interests and talents,” Whalen said.

He said that this internship is an excellent example of uniting dif­ferent com­po­nents of the liberal arts and finding truth by studying them together as they ought to be studied.

Rebecca Char­bonneau, an intern at NASA who works closely with Moore, said she admires and enjoys working with Moore.

“She’s cer­tainly one of the most insightful and clever people I’ve ever worked with,” Char­bonneau said. “She really is a unique person. I think she’s going to do really really cool things in the future.”

Moore said that she is not certain where she’ll work after she grad­uates, but that her time in Wash­ington, D.C. has helped her realize what she wants in a career. She added that she is pas­sionate about the space industry and excited about the future.

“I think that the space industry is on a rise and that people should take it more seri­ously in the future,” she said. “I think it will come into play very soon. It’s overt in pop culture and science, as we can see now with the rise of space-related trends in fashion and film. It seems very clear to me that the American imag­i­nation is returning to space, and I would encourage people to pay attention to that.”