Page 37

Branelle sometimes assists with space walks, an event that takes an “army of folks on ground,” says Branelle.

A typical day for Branelle (Cibuzar) Rodriguez begins around 6 a.m. After grabbing a cup of coffee and checking in with her coworkers, Branelle sits down at a computer and reviews happenings from the night prior and determines what’s to come during the day ahead. There’s paperwork and communications, troubleshooting and event coordination. You could say it’s not rocket science, but you’d be absolutely wrong. Branelle, a 2000 graduate of Brainerd High School. is employed with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration as an International Space Station (ISS) Mission Evaluation Room (MER) Manager; and she is, literally, a rocket scientist. And in October 2015, this 33-yearold mother of one was the youngest to-date inductee into the Brainerd High School Distinguished Hall of Fame. assess impacts and how to get systems back up and running.” Just another day at the office. Typically, Branell is on console around 10 hours, taking her turn periodically to monitor any anomalies during off hours. In addition to these “regular duties,” Branelle also has the opportunity

to regularly assist on “special events,” including space walks, visiting vehicle capture, robotics operations and more. “As you can imagine, leaving the safe environment of the ISS and venturing out into the vacuum of space is anything but normal. This is a significant achievement and it takes an army of folks on ground to work together to make it successful. These times are always exciting and typically come with a bit of an adrenalin rush.” After a day of dealing with telemetry analysis, conversations with occupants of the ISS, flight operations planning and more, Branelle begins her other full-time job as wife of husband, Scott, and mother of daughter, Samantha, at their home in southeastern Texas. “Life as a MER Manager is always busy and constantly changing,” she noted. “But, my family always comes first, and I am thankful that I work in an organization that fully supports this.” Even supported 100 percent by her husband, Branelle says going back to work had its challenges. “I’m lucky to have Samantha on-site with me, so we drive to and from together. I also make it a priority to leave work at 4 p.m. each day in order to maximize my time with her.” Occasionally, Branelle works from home, but after Samantha has gone to bed. Says Branelle, “If I’m working off-nominal hours supporting real time operations I don’t see her as much, but still am able to make time. It’s not always easy and my sleep has dwindled, but thankfully we have a lot of fun as a family!” So, what’s next for this star struck woman now that she has achieved the job of her dreams? Going into space. Branelle says she will probably apply in the next round of astronaut selections. “Opportunities arise within NASA, and hopefully one of those will come to fruition and I’ll be able to use my leadership skills in different capacities,” says Branelle.

Branelle’s other full time job: wife to Scott, mother to Samantha.

While having a child has changed her perspective, she falls back on advice from her dad. “He once told me that I should work in a position that gives me the best shot at advancing and preserving mankind. I hope to always be able to do this.”. n Jenny Holmes is a former reporter for the Brainerd Dispatch and currently owns a public relations and communication business. She lives in Nisswa with husband, Tim and their two school-aged children.

Spring 2016 | her voice 37

Her Voice Magazine Spring 2016 issue  

Living Through Lyme Disease: This woman overcame the odds of a debilitating disease to run a marathon. • Razing the Barn: In her personal es...

Her Voice Magazine Spring 2016 issue  

Living Through Lyme Disease: This woman overcame the odds of a debilitating disease to run a marathon. • Razing the Barn: In her personal es...

Advertisement