Alumni Spotlight: Caley Burke

NASA – Kennedy Space Center (KSC)
Launch Services Program
Flight Analysis Division
Flight Design (i.e. Rocket Trajectories)
Purdue University, Aeronautical & Astronautical Engineering, B.S. 2005
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Aeronautical & Astronautical Engineering, S.M. 2010

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Caley began her career in 2002 as an intern at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) before she transferred to NASA Launch Services Program (LSP) in 2003. She attended MIT as part of the Kennedy Graduate Fellowship Program and performed fluid slosh in microgravity research on the Synchronized Position Hold Engage and Reorient Experimental Satellites (SPHERES) platform on the International Space Station (ISS). In 2010, she participated in the agency-wide leadership program, NASA FIRST (Foundations of Influence, Relationships, Success and Teamwork), to improve her skills in the areas of personal effectiveness, business acumen and leading and managing others. In 2018, she joined space professionals around the world in the Netherlands for a summer session at the International Space University.

Aerospace Engineer Caley Burke now works for NASA’s Launch Services Program (LSP) where she analyzes the trajectories of rockets launched for NASA and NOAA robotic spacecraft missions. Currently she works on the Joint Polar Satellite System 2 (JPSS-2) mission launching an Atlas V 401 rocket. She controls the interface between the spacecraft and launch vehicle teams and ensures that the spacecraft is delivered to the right place at the right time and is pointed in the right direction.

Additionally, she is spending six months as the Ascent Lead for the Integrated Performance in NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP) for the crewed launches of the Boeing CST-100 Starliner and Space X Dragon capsules on Atlas V and Falcon 9 rockets.

Caley also leads the KSC International Space Apps Challenge team, which both develops challenges to be solved worldwide and hosts a Space Apps location. She enjoys doing educational outreach for NASA and speaking at schools and museums, and she mentors the FIRST Robotics Team 1592, the Bionic Tigers and NASA GIRLS. Caley holds membership in the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and the NASA LSP social media team. For the social media team, she live-tweets launches and posts on LSP outreach. Follow @RocketCaley for posts about her personal experiences with space, science and more.

Previously, Caley oversaw several launches including the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), the Mars 2018 lander, the InSight, the Atlas V, a NuSTAR on a Pegasus XL and a Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) on a Delta II. She received a NASA Silver Achievement Medal with the LSP Flight Dynamics Team for qualifying Pegasus XL flight software for NuSTAR. She performed a flight controls study for the Parker Solar Probe mission with a NASA Engineering and Safety Center team. She also performs independent validation and verification analysis on any launch vehicle configurations that are new to NASA LSP. Not only that, but she has also served on console––imagine an engineer with a headset looking at rocket data on launch day––as NASA Winds (saying GO!) and Flight Dynamics for LSP missions.

Caley’s position contributes to space exploration by providing expertise that helps reduce the risks involving the delivery of NASA exploratory missions to space. The Purdue Crew team is glad to have had a person like Caley!