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‘A great privilege’: Mount de Sales Academy alumna soars into space with famed ‘Star Trek’ actor William Shatner

A Columbia native and Mount de Sales Academy graduate joined famed “Star Trek” actor William Shatner on board Blue Origin’s rocket on its Wednesday journey. And members of the private Catonsville school’s community watched, and prayed, as the 60-foot rocket hurled into space.

Audrey Powers is a 1994 graduate of Mount de Sales Academy where she was a top student and star goalie for the lacrosse team.

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Mount de Sales Academy, a Catholic all-girls college preparatory high school, held a watch party to witness Powers’ momentous flight with Blue Origin — a private spaceflight company founded by entrepreneur Jeff Bezos. Powers is also an executive with Blue Origin.

Many alumnae and members of the Mount de Sales community gathered for the significant event, as Principal Sister Mary Raymond Thye led the community in prayer, according to a news release.

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Audrey Powers in 1993 when she was a senior at Mount de Sales. BALTIMORE SUN FILE
Audrey Powers in 1993 when she was a senior at Mount de Sales. BALTIMORE SUN FILE (PAUL HUTCHINS / XX)

“This is a great opportunity for Audrey and a great opportunity for us to show role models like her for our students to see and to aspire to. What a great privilege for Audrey! It’s a new era with a Sailor in space!” Thye said.

Powers is a Columbia native who joined Blue Origin in 2013, but her true origin started at Mount de Sales.

At Mount de Sales, Powers led the school’s soccer and lacrosse teams, served as student council treasurer, and was the recipient of numerous honors that included being the Class of 1994′s valedictorian, the Father Robert W. Duerr scholarship, the U.S. Army Reserve Scholar Athlete award and a Maryland Distinguished Scholar honorable mention.

Powers also was a member of the astronomy club and had ambitions to become an astronaut while in high school. In 1999, she earned a bachelor’s degree in astro-aeronautical engineering at Purdue University, according to Powers’ LinkedIn account.

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Before working at Blue Origin, she was a flight controller for NASA, logging 2,000 hours of console time in mission control for the International Space Station program, according to Blue Origin’s website.

From left, the crew of the Blue Origin New Shepard, Audrey Powers, William Shatner, Chris Boshuizen and Glen de Vries walk across the landing pad near Van Horn, Texas, after flying to space on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021. William Shatner, the actor who played Captain Kirk in "Star Trek," told Jeff Bezos his visit to the edge of space in the Blue Origin rocket was the most profound experience he could imagine.
From left, the crew of the Blue Origin New Shepard, Audrey Powers, William Shatner, Chris Boshuizen and Glen de Vries walk across the landing pad near Van Horn, Texas, after flying to space on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021. William Shatner, the actor who played Captain Kirk in "Star Trek," told Jeff Bezos his visit to the edge of space in the Blue Origin rocket was the most profound experience he could imagine. (LM Otero/AP)

Today, she serves as Blue Origin’s vice president of mission and flight operations where she oversees vehicle maintenance, launch, landing and ground support infrastructure for the New Shepard rocket.

Powers’ rocket, called the New Shepard NS-18, successfully carried Shatner, who famously played Captain Kirk in the original television series “Star Trek,” and two other crew members into space. Shatner strapped in alongside Powers and two paying customers: Chris Boshuizen, a former NASA engineer, and Glen de Vries of a 3D software company. Blue Origin would not divulge the cost of their tickets.

Blue Origin said it plans one more passenger flight this year and several more in 2022. Sounding like the humane and idealistic Captain Kirk himself, the company said its goal is to “democratize space.”

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

An undated photo provided by Blue Origin shows the crew of NS-18, from left: Chris Boshuizen, William Shatner, Audrey Powers and Glen de Vries. After Blue Origin's latest launch on Oct. 13, 2021, much of the initial reaction focused more on William Shatner's introduction to outer space than the particulars of the flight or issues with the company behind it.
An undated photo provided by Blue Origin shows the crew of NS-18, from left: Chris Boshuizen, William Shatner, Audrey Powers and Glen de Vries. After Blue Origin's latest launch on Oct. 13, 2021, much of the initial reaction focused more on William Shatner's introduction to outer space than the particulars of the flight or issues with the company behind it. (Blue Origin via The New York Times)
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