Interview with Astrophysicist Sarah Cruddas
Sarah Cruddas is a space journalist, TV host and award-winning children’s author.
With a background in astrophysics — her academic work focused on the detection of AGNs — active galaxy nuclei — Sarah is considered a global thought leader in the rapidly growing commercial space sector, speaking at events all over the world.
She is also a Board Director at Space for Humanity — a US non-profit aimed at democratizing access to space, and host of the television series Contact on Discovery and Science Channel.
Sarah is the author of three children’s book — her third The Space Race was released for the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landings (and was sent to space). It features a forward by astronaut Eileen Collins — the first woman to command a space mission. Sarah is currently writing her first adult non-fiction book to be published in 2020.
Here’s her story:
Newnham: What drew you to STEM subjects from such a young age?
Cruddas: The truth is I cannot remember a time when I haven’t been passionate about space. Looking up at the moon is one of my first memories. When I glance at is as an adult, it still takes me back to that very first moment I saw it.
“I am just a girl who dreamed of space.”
Newnham: Your work is wonderful and varied. Can you talk us through your career?
Cruddas: I am just a girl who dreamed of space, who got side-tracked somewhere along the way, but never gave up on that passion for pushing humans to the stars.
(Sarah grew up in Yorkshire and took A-levels in Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Chemistry. She won the Young Scientist 2000 Awards and got the opportunity to attend NASA’s International Space Camp. Sarah received a BSc in Physics with Astrophysics and a Post Graduate Diploma in Broadcast Journalism before starting her career as a broadcast journalist and reporter with BBC TV and BBC Radio 1Xtra and presented news on TalkSport.
In 2011, Sarah worked at NASA as a reporter covering the space shuttle launch and landing for BBC radio. She worked for the BBC before becoming a global speaker, journalist, TV host and author, focusing on space.)
Newnham: What have been some highlights of your career? What are you most proud of?
Cruddas: Highlights include riding a speed boat to North Korea, hiding from the Cartel in Mexico while investigating unexplained sightings, swimming with whale sharks off the coast of Australia (as part of a report into NASA tech transfer on Earth), launching my third children’s book into space (well the edge of space), sharing a stage with Moonwalker Buzz Aldrin on more than one occasion, working with Gene Cernan — still the last person to ever walk on the Moon — and the kindest astronaut I ever met. Presenting to Bill Gates about the future of space exploration, and covering the Space Shuttle lift-off for the BBC.
But the thing I am most proud of is nominating the British-American astronaut Piers Sellers for The Admiral James E Hill Lifetime Space Achievement Award.
“If you want it, you gotta keep going.”
Newnham: Have there been lows in your career and if so, how did you overcome the obstacles?
Cruddas: My career has mostly been made up of failures and successes. No path is very straightforward. Sometimes it is hard to overcome obstacles, but the truth is I always just remind myself that nothing worth having comes easy. If you want it, you gotta keep going.
Newnham: Tell me about Space for Humanity…
Cruddas: Space for Humanity has one simple goal — to democratize access to space. To fund commercial tourist trips for all kinds of people, from all walks of life.
Space isn’t just for the few, it is for all of us. Helping to open up access to space to people from more diverse backgrounds is just the first step.
Newnham: You have authored three books. How important do you think it is to get kids excited about STEM subjects and why?
Cruddas: Inspiring the next generation is our gift to the future.
Newnham: And what’s next for you?
Cruddas: I’m currently writing my fourth book and first adults’ title, so that’s occupying most of my time at the moment.
Newnham: Finally, if you could go back in time, what advice would you offer a younger Sarah?
Cruddas: Keep going. Even when times are tough, you just never know what is around the corner.
Thanks to Emma Sinclair for the introduction.