In early 2022, GSUSA sponsored the “Girl Scouts to the Moon and Back” essay contest to give Girl Scouts a chance to win a Space Science badge that’s actually been to space on NASA’s Artemis I. That mission is NASA’s first step toward the goal of sending the first woman and the first person of color to the moon.
In November 2022, NASA’s Artemis I, the most powerful rocket to ever leave Earth, reached a distance of over 268,000 miles from our planet, the farthest away any human-rated spaceship has yet travelled. There, in orbit around our Moon, at the threshold of human exploration, among the ship’s cargo of valuable scientific equipment, sat a box of 81 Girl Scout Badges.
Yes, aboard this grand cosmic voyage, the trepid first step of a second Space Race, was a box of the coolest scout badges of all time. And on March 16, 2023, one of those badges—returned now to Earth—was awarded to a 5th Grade girl in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Gracie Ogle is the only Girl Scout in Tennessee to win the “Girl Scouts to the Moon and Back” contest, for which she had to write an essay and build a miniature Mars rover among other tasks. At the local Girl Scout Leadership Center, standing beside the American flag, wearing her well-decorated Girl Scout vest, young Gracie received the badge that had travelled 1.4 million miles to rest in her palm.
There was another surprise waiting beside it—a moon box created by Y-12 in the 1960s, a prototype of the one that went to the Moon during the Apollo missions. It is one of only a dozen or so such boxes in the world, and the people of Y-12 brought it out for Gracie to see.
Gracie’s mom said, “It’s amazing for me because I see her carry through from the beginning of a badge all the way to the end… learning just to follow through with something. It’s really inspiring to me because I knew from the very beginning that she was going to be a go-getter, and I’m glad for her to have this opportunity… [Winning the contest] was amazing and out of the blue… Her father and I are really proud of her, no matter what she does.”
Not only did the Artemis I mission have some unique cargo, but it also served as the first step in sending the first woman and person of color to the moon. Inspiring missions like Artemis I encourage Girl Scouts to enter fields of STEM, where only 34% of women are present in the STEM workforce and less than 10% are Black, Indigenous and Latina. Plus, the mission had the added benefit of putting a smile on a local young girl’s face.