You could never have predicted the trajectory of Christina’s life as a singer and musician would lead to her managing astronauts and space events and experiences. But that unique background has given a much needed perspective to help connect the space industry and the mainstream world to remember why everyone loves space. In this episode, we disuss how even though it might not be easy to be the outlier, there is a tremendous amount of benefit it can bring – to individuals, to organizations, and even entire industries.
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The Beauty In Being The Outlier, With Christina Korp
Welcome back, Leading Ladies and male allies. We have a really exciting guest for you here today. We have an astronaut Wrangler! Christina Korp was not only the manager for Apollo 11 Teen astronaut Buzz Aldrin, she also ran his company for 10 years. Before that, she was a professional singer, and ran a media company. And she used that knowledge to work with Buzz and elevate his brand and public awareness. She now does that on a much bigger scale, by promoting space and engaging people in a much more accessible way. She produced the last 5 Galas at the Kennedy Space Center, and co-founded the people’s moon and experiential installation that has been showcased around the world. And now resides at the Kennedy Space Center. Additional lover of space, Matt Higa, is also here today as my co-interviewer co-presenter, whatever it is, and we’re going to be talking to Christina about some of her experiences in the world of space, and specifically around the beauty in being the outlier. Welcome, Christina.
Thank you for having me.
Matt: Awesome. Yeah. Thanks, Christina, for joining us here today. I mean, I say it all the time online. And just, every time I meet one of the top 62 is just it’s an honor and a privilege and a blessing to be here speaking with you getting to learn, you know, one to one closer and even more distance now as close digitally, from a profile to an actual face to face and actual put a voice to mean, make alive. So I’m just happy to be here. And thank you Fiona for letting us, you know, use your platform and infrastructure to put this all together.
It’s a really awesome cause. So really awesome calls for anybody that hasn’t listened to the last few podcasts. Matt actually came up with the Top Women in Aerospace and aviation to follow on LinkedIn. And so that is the women that we are in right now. Which is pretty awesome.
Now, Christina, you have a really unique background. Tell me more about how you ended up working in space.
Yeah, I always say to people, you could not have predicted the trajectory of my life. Growing up in South Dakota, to working with Apollo astronauts. In a billion years, I was in a family band. I’m one of 10 children. I have five brothers and four sisters. When I grew up in a family band that was like the real life Partridge Family. I was on keys at the age of 12. My brother was 10 years old on drums. My sister was 16 on bass. And my dad played guitar. And we started this family band. And when I tell people that they think it means we did that as a hobby, but no, I played in bars four to six nights a week starting 12 years old and had to get up and go to school every day and play in the bar every night. Half of my teachers were in the bar watching us play. And the other half of them didn’t approve of us being in the bar. I played my own prom. It was quite an interesting upbringing. And so after 10 years when I was 22, I wanted more. I didn’t want to just keep playing in bars and clubs forever. So I left my family band to move to Los Angeles. They kept going without me. One of my little sisters took my place in the band. And I went to LA to pursue my rockstar dreams and I had more success than most I did get signed to Warner Brothers. Eventually I made a record. I was singing background vocals on records for Ringo Starr and people like that. I was hanging out with Aerosmith. I was doing quite amazing. I mean, when you look at it, it looks kind of crazy. Even that part of my life. And I was also in between all of that doing assistant sound editing jobs and things in post production and film and TV, and then ended up touring all over Latin America singing backgrounds for major Latin artists. and doing shows anywhere from like 15,000 people to 200,000 people like gigantic shows. And so that was, you know, me trying to pursue being a rock star. But it was also a very feast or famine, lifestyle, sometimes it was really, really wonderful. And sometimes you’re a flat broke, you know. And so I ended up leaving that and I ended up working for John Tesh, who was a media personality, he had a radio show and used to be on Entertainment Tonight, and he was a musician. And I worked in his company. And he took me under his wing and taught me how to run the record label and production company and the radio show. And I loved that job. But I was working myself to death, because I was running the company Monday to Friday, that I would tour every weekend singing in his band and being the tour manager. So I worked every day for years, and I just couldn’t keep doing it. And I finally decided I wanted to have a life because I just worked all the time.
So I answered an ad in The Hollywood Reporter to work for Buzz Aldrin. And the funny thing about it is at the time, at the time, I thought, Oh, this is a perfect, nice, boring job working for an old guy who probably reads the paper who knows what he does. But to me, it was like coming from managing a, you know, concert tours, and having this kind of intense, like always go go go route lifestyle, I thought, oh, working for a 77 year old guy, it’s gonna be a piece of cake. And honestly, I was chosen by his ex-wife, because they wanted someone who knew how to handle media and PR, and then all of his speaking engagements and appearances and stuff. So they wanted someone from entertainment to help with that. And to be honest, I just think his ex wife really wanted to go to the Grammy parties, Oscar parties, too, and thought I could help with that, you know. And so I went into this job thinking, he’ll die in a couple of years. And I would say this in front of people, and they would just do this in front of us. And he’d say, joke’s on her. I’m still around, you know. And so what began as a very to me administrative job of doing a simpler job compared to what I’d done before turned into a responsibility. And also, obviously, beginning to realize that I was becoming part of a circle of people, Apollo astronauts, and people in aerospace at a very high level, and being accepted in that world in a way that maybe if I had come from the engineering or science or maybe wouldn’t have worked, but because I had worked with rock stars, being around the Apollo astronauts was no big deal to me, you know. And I think that’s partially why I got accepted pretty quickly because I just treated them like normal people. To me, they’re, what was the big deal? You know, it took me a while to really understand the significance though. The historical significance of being a part of this world?
Was there a tipping point, like, and what was that like for you to go from, like music management? And when did you start to really accept the importance and significance of what you were doing?
Yeah, I have to admit, for the first few years, I was working for Buzz. I just looked at it as a job. And I honestly still wasn’t even looking at it as a long term thing. And it just became a part of my reality. And then Buzz divorced his wife, he decided after he did Dancing with the Stars, because I had begun to influence him by getting him to do a making of like, rap video with Snoop Dogg. If you’ve never seen it, let’s look it up. It’s awesome. And, you know, we were doing a lot of more mainstream stuff like that, you know, and he would say, I shouldn’t be doing this, the astronauts won’t like it. I was like, who cares? You don’t need to convince those guys, you need to convince people like me who actually love space, but I didn’t know what was going on, you know. And so he began to do more of that; he did Dancing with the Stars, which kind of gave him a whole new lease on life and made him really, really famous again, to a new generation. And so I got married during all of this, and I got pregnant. And when my daughter was five days old, he divorced that wife, and I had to pick up his life and help him start over with a newborn baby, which was its own challenge and, and start helping him start over with his life, which is how I took over running his company. And so it took a bit for us to get into it. But finally we were getting a rhythm and we were doing lots of really cool things that I always say my rock star lifestyle prepared me for life with a rock astronaut, because we started doing appearances where we’d go to China for a day we’d go to Brazil for a day, we’d go to Australia for a day and come back and people would be like, how can you do this? And I’m like, honestly, if we weren’t flying and business or first class, there’s no way we’d be able to handle it. No, because, right quite an intense thing to fly for 17 hours and then do an event and then come back.
The tipping point, the part where I really began to realize what I was a part of was, Stephen Hawking’s people had reached out several times tried to arrange a meeting with Buzz, and this is still when he was with his wife. And she just didn’t care. You know, it was no priority to her. And so they reached out to me again, when I was running the company, we were coming to the UK and on to Italy, and then coming back to the UK for some event space events and obligations. And so I said, Oh, this would be a good time to meet Stephen Hawking, finally. And so I arranged this meeting with Stephen Hawking. We did this actual aviation, world record simulation of flying around the world as a charity event for a company called Air Ability that teaches physically disabled people how to fly. And so we did that in the morning. They’re based in the UK. And then we went to Stephen Hawking’s office in Cambridge that, like we drove to Cambridge, and then visited him in his office. And then we went back to London and did a BBC, like radio panel in this theater, right by BBC studios. Like this is the kind of crazy schedule to do like a charity event and do that kind of a meeting and then go do another event in the evening. Anyway, after the BBC thing we did. This Harvard professor who had been on the panel said to me, so what did you guys do today? And so we did this charity event in the morning. And then we went to meet Stephen Hawking for the first time in his office. And then we came into this. And he was like, I’m sorry, what? And I said, Yeah, that’s what we did. And he was like, You’re a part of history now. And I said, Oh, I’m nobody. And he’s like, no, no, no, you just told me that you just took Buzz Aldrin to meet Stephen Hawking for their first ever meeting. And I said, Yes, and he goes, You don’t understand what I would give to be in that room. You need to start taking this seriously, you have a responsibility to humanity and be paying attention to this. And so I was like, geez, you know, kind of like, okay, but that was the point, then I realized, wow, I guess he’s right,
I’m not thinking about this, I’m going all over the place with this very historical person who did something that changed the world, within that, and introducing him to another person who changed the world, who, you know that significance of what that was just, it took a while for it to hit me. And after that, I realized I needed to start paying more attention about what was going on. But the other thing, just to go, like how I started becoming passionate about space is obviously I was in very high level meetings with very high level space, industry executives, and people at NASA and heads of space agencies. And I began to hear a lot of things and absorb a lot of information, and realizing what I was learning on the job constantly about the space industry. But the bigger thing that really touched me was the way that people were affected by the first moon landing. Like when people every day, at every meal, walking into a hotel, getting on a plane, everywhere we went, someone would stop and say, I got to tell you where I was when you walked on the moon. And most of the time, it was somebody who was a kid who was like, I’ll never forget it. It’s my clearest childhood memory of sitting there watching this, you know, and that those stories really began to get to me and for the astronauts, that’s, again, that’s just their reality. So they’d be like, Oh, that’s nice, you know, but then I, I began to realize, Wow, I’m the keeper of the memories. Like, I’m actually the one who started to pay attention to these things, you know, and absorb these heartfelt stories people would tell, I began to record them, I’ve got quite a few of them, of people talking about what this meant. And I realized that the first moon landing on Apollo 11 is the first and probably only time ever, that the world stopped waiting in anticipation, and then celebrated a human achievement, not after a tragedy, but a positive human achievement that the world joined together and was proud of, and that’s a moment that we don’t understand in this generation.
And so that being the witness to all of that really began to get to me and think, Well, I have a responsibility here. This is more than just space is cool. Space is fun, you know, it’s technologically cool. What to me is more powerful is the impact it’s made on people’s hearts and what it triggers within people of possibility. And so that’s what really changed me and started making me think, what could I do to try to spark like that spark and other people and get them interested in space and as a representation, I guess, a possibility of the future of what they could do for themselves. So that’s really what changed my own heart and made me think, okay, I need to use this platform, use this experience and do something good with it.
Wow, that’s really, really beautiful.
I had to and so like astronaut Wrangler and time capsule, like you’re living in a Time Capsule anyway, in a sense. Yeah, I mean, my favorite story, I’ll just tell it really quick. And there’s a bunch of them. But these ladies who had hired Buzz to give a speech in tech in Tennessee, when they had us in the green room, they said, we finally have you and can tell you our moon landing memory. So they said we were young girls in Turkey. We lived in a village with no running water, no electricity, our mother couldn’t read or write. And our father only had a fifth grade education. But he was committed to his daughters having a better life than they had. And so he wanted us to graduate high school and get a college degree. The week of the moon landing their father bought a Grundig radio. And they said everyone from their village came to listen to the moon landing coverage on this radio. 300 people in and out of their house and kids out on the lawn. They said when we heard that you landed on the moon, we felt like we did it. And we hugged and cheered and cried. And we were so proud of what humans had accomplished. And they said, when everyone calmed down, they went out to the grass. And people sat down and looked up at the moon and it was full. And I said, What were you thinking then? And they said, we realized we could aim higher, we could aim higher for our dreams. And so the older sister went on to get her PhD in quantum physics. And the younger sister got her MBA and has a successful company in California. And I was like, wow, like they just heard the movement, like that just flipped the switch that they didn’t even get to watch it, you know, but that was enough the realization, you know that this impossible thing had been accomplished made them aim higher for what they were going to do before.
Well, now you’re making me think that the title of this podcast and with your story should aim higher for your dreams, because you certainly seem to be living breathing proof of that. Wow. Well, it almost seems a little bit odd to do this right now after such an amazing story. But I just want to take a moment to recognize our sponsor of the leading lady’s podcast.
So Christina, absolutely loved your story so far today. And I actually want to hear more. And I’m probably going to not spend too long on today’s topic, but can’t not acknowledge it. And so we talked about, you know, I almost don’t feel like you are an outlier. I feel like you’re an insider. But in a way, you know, as you became more interested in space, and you were spending time with, you know, the senior executives in senior space companies. Did you ever feel like you were an outlier? And if so, how did you deal with that?
Um, you know, I guess in some ways, I still feel like an outlier. A bit. Because, you know, often when I go into meetings and stuff, people will say, Well, what’s your PhD? Um, I don’t have a fancy degree, I just have a PhD in getting stuff done. Yeah, I’m really good at accomplishing things and I am very resourceful. And if I don’t know how to do it, I can figure out who knows how to do it and or who can help me do it, you know, and I’m not afraid to ask for help, which I think is a big, you know, if you want to give advice, that’s one thing I would say to people don’t be afraid to ask for help. Because I’ve gotten pretty far with asking people for help. And people want to help, you know, they feel pretty proud of being able to impart their wisdom or their whatever, you know, if you ask them for help, but I mean, I will say this I’m sure there have been people in some of those meetings with that. Why is this girl in this room? But then again, I think that because I’ve always been pretty okay with being in those rooms and not being intimidated by anybody that they respected me more because of it. I was in a meeting one time at the Korean space agency with an astronaut and I was just accompanying him. So I sat on the side. And he was trying to convince them to do something. And then at one point, I said, Hey, I’m producing events for the Apollo 11/50 anniversary. It just occurred to me, I’d love to get the perspective of you in Korea who were planning an Orbiter Mission to the Moon. And the guy who was the head of the Lunar Orbiter Mission. The chief engineer said, Well, I can’t say that Apollo 11 had any impact on my life. But my father, gosh, my father has talked about it my whole life has talked about how Apollo 11 was just so amazing. And I said, I’m sorry, hold on. Your father talked about Apollo 11 Your whole life, you became an engineer, you are now the chief engineer, and head of the Lunar Orbiter program for the Korean Space Agency, and you don’t think it made an impact on your life? And he was like, you’re a CEO. You’re a CEO, aren’t you? I was like, Well, I’m just saying. Like, to me, that’s the clearest indication of how it impacted your life is the fact that your father was so. So I mean, I think, you know, there probably have been times where I’ve spoken up in meetings that people thought she should not be talking. But I also think, what if I got to lose? What are they gonna do to kick me out of the room? Especially when I was with Buzz, you know, in official capacity, what are they going to do? Kick me out of the room?
You know, the whole thing has nothing to lose. I mean, I like one of my favorite sayings is I’d rather regret doing something and regret not doing it. And so there’s nothing to lose. I love that. And it sounds like you just went into those rooms and really owned it. And I liked the way that you in a way in that story, sat silently on the sidelines and then came in with this lightning bolt, comment. I love that.
Well, and I think that’s what people don’t expect, sometimes from women. And I think a lot of women stop themselves from saying what they think. And, I’m a little bit less afraid to do that. Because I just feel like, you know, I don’t know what’s gonna happen, somebody’s gonna get mad at me.
Yeah, no, that’s great. We were talking about that. In the last interview, when we were talking to Erica as well, it kind of came up because like, what can women do? Like, how does it work? How do people perceive, you know, like that reaching out and breaking those barriers there? So like, the same thing came up was like, oh, lean in sort of, like, just do it? Like, what is there to lose? There’s a quote by somebody who said, If there’s not a table, if there’s not a chair at the table, grab a folding chair and like, pull it up, or whatever, you know, like to the table because or, you know, find something to sit on. Because, you know, that’s the thing. We can’t wait around for somebody to invite you. You just have to be part of it. You know. And to be honest, I do think that a lot of times, you know, people who may be some kind of macho actually respect you when you step up like that, you know?
Yeah, when I’m coaching my male clients, I’m very direct, and I call them out on a lot of their stuff. And they almost enjoy it. Now, maybe not in the moment, but definitely later on. Yeah, and so since we’re on the topic of gender, as you know, this is the leading lady’s podcast, and we talked about breaking glass ceilings, did you feel like there was a glass ceiling in the arena that you were working?
There absolutely is a glass ceiling, especially in the aerospace world. Now it was there for me, I never felt like there was for me, but like I said, you know, I felt like I rubbed shoulders with some pretty high profile people. So I never felt uncomfortable in any of those rooms ever. And I think that, that’s a combination of because I had done so many, you know, kind of amazing things already. And then also, frankly, I have five brothers. And my dad never ever treated the girls differently. And so, you know, I guess I kind of always felt like I could hold my own with five brothers, you know but I will say this, I became much more aware of the imbalance when I started asking people for their, what Apollo 11 meant to them. I was struggling to find women. And I realized wow, this is a very male dominated, you know, thing this video I put together and I had some really high profile people like Tom Hanks and Tim Allen and, and Stephen Colbert and Stephen Hawking and Neil deGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye and John Travolta and I mean, I had like an incredible array but all men and that began to really you know, that’s why the women in Turkey story is so impactful to me. But then I started meeting some of the Female pioneers in aerospace, and hearing their stories also about how they were the only women for like 10 years in their field or in their office or whatever. And the unfortunate thing is, a lot of times, they would say we were afraid to rock the boat. It took a while for us to get accepted. And we didn’t want to rock the boat. But now we wish we had rocked the boat. Now, we wish we had spoken up more or made way for more women. Because, you know, we didn’t expect it to be just me, the only woman in the room for 10 years, you know.
So after talking to so many different people for so many years, and like literally being like a living time capsule, as well, as astronaut Wrangler, I’m sure you have a ton of great memories that have like been passed on to you what is one of your favorites that you’ve received, maybe particularly from women since they were so further and few in between? What’s one of your favorites of those?
When I was looking for female pioneers, I met Joanne Morgan, she was the first female engineer at Kennedy Space Center. And she was the only woman there for 10 years. And she said it took her so long to get accepted that she didn’t want to rock the boat. And she just wanted to be happy. She was good. She ended up being the only woman in the room when Apollo 11 lifted off in launch control. There’s a very iconic photo, if you can find it, of her being very clearly the only woman surrounded by all these guys. And she said she kept being asked to do interviews. And she turned it down because she didn’t want to stick out. And she didn’t want the guys to give her a hard time. But in 1972, she finally decided to do an interview. And she got hundreds of letters in the mail from little girls who said, Wow, I didn’t know girls could be engineers. And she said, I realized I made a mistake. I should have done the interviews, even if even if the guys gave me a hard time i didn’t realize what the impact would be on young people, too. And also, I didn’t think I’d be the only woman in the room for 10 years, I thought eventually there would be more women when it says they will come to me eventually there would be more and it took much longer than she thought it would take.
Yeah, that definitely touches on a lot of things we’ve talked about recently, like I mean, particularly being an outlier. But also, it sounds like her story sort of mimics your transition where she had a moment of like that tipping point of recognizing that she’s a part of something and it is impactful as well. So definitely being an outlier can contribute in like, you know, stepping out of your comfort zone. So like, I mean, it seems like an obvious question. I answered a meme. But like, I mean, you totally see, do you see the benefit of businesses like hiring outliers and like getting some cross disciplinary things going?
Absolutely. I think that people, companies, especially in corporations get stuck with hiring the same type of people who think the same way as them. And I think there’s a huge benefit to bringing a fresh perspective, a fresh set of eyes. You know, that’s the thing with the space world. A lot of them are like we’re doing big, important things. We’re building lunar landers, and I’m like, Yeah, nobody knows it. So, so mean, meanwhile, you know, nobody has any idea you guys are doing these things. And then you’re wondering why you can’t get more support from the public.
You know, you need more people like me who are trying to help, you know, raise awareness and look at it in a different way than you look at it. Because I’ve had researchers say, we don’t need to worry about raising money, we focus on our research, and where do you think the money comes from? I mean, you need the public to care in order to get money into what you want to do. So that’s one thing, I think that is helpful to have someone like me who came from a totally different world to get fresh eyes on it, I think every company in any field could probably benefit from that, that sort of thing to get them out of ruts of dealing with the status quo and doing things the way they’ve always done it, you need some disruption.
Yeah, one of the terms that I really dislike is, you know, culture fit, versus, you know, I much prefer culture add. And I used to actually have a manager and when he hired people, he would purposefully be like, looking at the way they behave, what they did, what their background was, and picking somebody who was different. He had these ideas of, you know, different roles. People could play on teams. And I, I think a lot of us could really benefit from companies with that approach.
Well, Christina, we could interview you all day. And I wish I’m kind of like, I should just do like a three hour podcast with you. Because I just imagine like, the whole three hours would be awesome. But I’m not sure my editor would like me for that. But I think, Matt, do you have any more questions before we wrap things up?
Yeah, it’s my favorite question. And since I got a space person here to talk about it with just real quick, I mean, coz I know like Fiona said we could go on for 3-4-8 hours. I mean, probably the rest of my life. But something that I’ve been obsessed with recently because I’m trying to design one is the secret is I’m trying to design an astronaut training program. So trying to crowdsource and crowdfund that, you know, if you were in charge and you have experience with an astronaut, and if you were all Charles trying to make it an all female crew and be a couple other people Aeon lasers in China to Mars, how would you get? Or how would you design a program? And like, what would you do differently that’s already been done? Or, you know, like, what do you think is the next step or like what needs to happen for that to happen?
Well, one thing I will say about the commercial space, you know, explosion that’s kind of going on right now is it’s kind of showcasing, or at least hopefully, allowing this idea that you don’t have to be an engineer to go to space, because that’s pretty much one of the main requirements when you apply at NASA, or the European Space Agency is that you have to be an engineer, which is super outdated information, frankly. And you don’t have to be a pilot either. Because even all the pilots I know, would say, when you go to space, all of that goes out the window, it’s a totally different navigation, you don’t have air speed, you don’t have any of this stuff. And all of these spacecraft are automated anyway, at this point. So it’s funny you say this, because I’ve had many conversations with it, you know, the different types of people you should have on a mission, you should have a doctor, you should have a nurse, you know, what happens if you burst your appendix when you’re in space or something or you know, you have some dental emergency or something, you should have, you know, a computer tech, you should have somebody who can fix the computers, you should have somebody, I mean, having an engineer is a good fine, have an engineer, have a scientist have all this but, but having also musicians or people who deal with, you know, mental health or whatever I all of that would be amazing to have that array of minds and talents and expertise in space. Instead of just having this narrow category of engineers and pilots or whatever that outdated information, First of all. Second of all, one thing I learned recently from astronauts, which is really interesting is they’ve said, a lot of people when they come with astronaut training, I’m sorry, astronaut interviews, if you’ve gotten to the room, you have the qualifications, but they said everybody’s always trying to fit within what they think NASA wants. And what actually at that point they’re looking for is what is your personality? Like? Am I going to be able to stand being cooped up with you for six months? And they just want people to be themselves and ones who are themselves are the most likely to be chosen, you know, the ones who are themselves and aren’t super annoying. So and then, of course, the thing if I was going to pick my first crew, man, I would love to try an all female crew sometime. Because, you know, as we talked about when we weren’t recording, you know, the next mission to the moon on Artemis says we’re gonna put the first woman and it was saying the next man to the moon. And I was like, Why does it have to be the next man? Why can’t it just be two women to go on the next mission? Why does it have to? Why does a man need to go on the first mission? 12 men had walked on them, you know? So I’m not sure I’m gonna get very much traction with that. But honestly, I’m like, I don’t understand there’s plenty of female astronauts that are qualified. What can you send to women this time? You know, anyway.
Yeah. Oh, yeah. Mission to the Moon. I love that. That sounds super cool.
And to Mars too
And to Mars too
So we came up on LinkedIn recently, because of the recent Virgin Galactic Richard Branson, and Jeff Bezos race to space and everything, and Richard Branson being on the moon. And I saw on LinkedIn, some people having a conversation about should these people be called astronauts, and I just, you know, as astronaut Wrangler, I mean, I mean, I haven’t taken I think maybe you’re probably aligned on that now hearing more of what you said. But what’s your take on that? I mean, it seems a little bit like gatekeeping to me, though, I keep it as like astronaut is just engineers and scientists but when we need to be encouraging others to go out there and but what you know what the new commercial and the tours, you know, type of you know, race space in honoring the past and in our heroes best origin, you know, a man these are guy, you know, you think the new people should be called astronauts as well is that more open term and more people can kind of apply that.
Buzz had a very, some other astronauts too, that being an astronaut is a professional term. And you wouldn’t call somebody a doctor who does CPR or something like that. Buzz’s take and I absolutely see his point of view was that you’re a space traveler. You know, when you find a plane, you’re not the pilot. You’re a passenger. So I know there’s been some discussion about being space passengers or space I mean, Virgin Galactic calls them future astronauts. And it really bothers some of the astronauts because that was a profession that they trained for and that they’re more qualified to be. And to just call somebody who gets to go up into 12 minutes suborbital flight, an astronaut, kind of in the minds of some of the astronauts demeans the role or the profession that they all trained to be, because they trained for many years that usually they and trained to, to live in the environment of space. I mean, there are a lot of people who say, fine, just let them be called astronauts, what’s the big deal? You know, and so I think it’s just a matter of at some point, though, what, are you going to have a million astronauts probably, it will probably change at some point, but I don’t know, I guess I’m kind of torn. And I do see the astronaut point of view that to them, to some of them, it demeans the role of their professional, you know, title of astronaut, as opposed to someone who’s traveling as a passenger on a spacecraft to space, Buzz just thought they should just be called space travelers.
Ya know, What do you think? What is your take?
I’m open to both. Like, like I mentioned, like, I want to respect the past. And like, there’s definitely a difference between what Buzz did and what the 12 You know, most recent did like, there’s no doubt, but I love what Buzz says about being a space traveler. But that’s also kind of how, like, if you break down the etymology of the word, astronaut, it’s literally just star sailor, you know, which is essentially the same thing. It seems like the word itself, and words are powerful. But I think, you know, in a time that we’re supposed to be encouraging more people to get into the industry, like if they want to call it like, what gets them into it? And what gets more people excited about moving out to space and pursuing all these different endeavors and getting involved? If, you know, I’m fine. I’m including them. But like, there’s definitely a distinction between like, the scientists and engineers in like, specific training of what they did. And I think they’ll forever be remembered that way. They’re heroes. They’re the first astronauts, you know, and I think that’ll be the distinction there. But at a certain point, when we’re maybe at that inflection point, now where we need, we need astronauts is kind of what I’m thinking is like, we need people who want to go to space. And that can that was, I think maybe in the spirit of the term astronaut, that’s really what that means is that like somebody who wants to go to space and like, like sail the stars, let’s navigate that and go,
Yeah, that’s one thing I do have to say is that people will ask me, aren’t astronauts, the elite humans? And I said, No, they’re just as flawed as the rest of us. But they are willing to take the risk. And that’s what sets them apart is that they’re willing to take the risk to go do this thing that is dangerous. And there are a lot of people who are very smart, who would never do that. You know, there are also a lot of smart astronauts who aren’t that smart who’ve done it. So it’s being willing to take the risk, I think that really sets them apart.
Now speaking of taking risks, and final question today, would be there’s a lot of young women out there that are perhaps thinking, Oh, I, I’d like to work in space. But I’m a bit of an outlier. I’m not cool enough. What would your advice be, to those young women, young girls that are curious, but still feel like you’re an outsider,
I think any woman or girl should apply for every single job, everything. Because we have a bad habit of disqualifying ourselves from the start by not even applying. And now I will say I’m a little bit different. I heard a statistic that said, when a woman looks at a job posting, they feel they need to fit 100% of the criteria before they apply. If a guy looks at that same criteria and only fits 30% of it, he thinks I’m perfect for this job. And that’s what women have to start thinking, I can do this job, I can learn how to do that. And that’s the way that I am. I think I could do that. I could totally do and I can learn those things. And so I say, apply for every job. Because what have you got to lose, you don’t get it, you wouldn’t have got it anyway, if you didn’t apply, but you might actually get the job. And you might actually be the person that they want. And so that’s where I think women and girls have to train themselves. Just go for it every time. You know, there might be a moment of disappointment. But there’s a line in the Apple TV show Ted Lasso, that I love so much, which is about a goldfish. Goldfish has a five second memory, be a goldfish, you’d be happy again about it and go and be happy. That’s what being a goldfish is. Just go for everything. Try it. Try for everything. And in the process, you probably learned something even if you didn’t get it, and you might adjust and then next time you get it.
You know I love that. One of my favorite words is the word ‘yet.’ And so when people ask me, you know, have you written a book I haven’t written a book yet. I haven’t done that yet. Yes, I know that I can do it. And I guess I’m a little bit like you in that regard. I don’t know. Maybe it was because I spent so much time like hanging out with my dad when I was a kid and I feel I could do anything. But yeah, every time I have those moments of doubt, you know, well, and say, I can’t do that. I can’t do that yet. I will learn how
There’s a Richard Branson quote which I love, which says if someone asks you in an interview, if you know how to do something and you haven’t done it yet, say yes and learn how to do it. And men that’s a bit me in my life
I wish that we had a longer today, I would love to hear about your life seriously. From the moment you were born up to this day, it sounds like a pretty amazing life. And I am just so appreciative of all your advice and sharing your stories today. So for women and male allies that are listening, remember that there’s a lot that you can bring by being the outlier, say what you think more, you got nothing to lose, and aim higher for your dream. Aim higher and make Christina proud, make all the leading ladies and male allies proud
Make all of us proud. Thank you for having me.
Thank you Christina
Christina Korp is the former manager of Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin. She started her career in entertainment and went on to spend ten years as Buzz Aldrin’s Manager and Advisor as well as Chief Marketing Officer and VP of Business Development for Buzz Aldrin Enterprises, Inc., where she renewed Buzz’s brand and oversaw all licensing, media and public appearances. She created standards based educational tools like the Giant Mars Map and Giant Moon Map for ShareSpace Education. She co-produced the Emmy-nominated and 2018 Webby-winning Buzz Aldrin’s Cycling Pathways to Mars VR Experience with 8i and TIME LIVE VR. Christina executive produced the last five galas at Kennedy Space Center celebrating Apollo 11 including the Apollo 50th Gala at Kennedy Space Center in July of 2019 to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11. She co-founded The People’s Moon which was showcased on July 20th, 2019 in Times Square NYC and London Piccadilly. The People’s Moon experiential installation resides as a permanent exhibit at Kennedy Space Center Florida. In 2020 she co-founded SPACE for a Better World, a philanthropic space experience company.