Meet Mark

We are honored to have Mark Pestana as one of our donors. It’s a privilege to be supported by this outstanding human, and we think you’ll agree.

How would someone describe you?

People have described me as multi-dimensional… using both sides of my brain. I love science and engineering, and the technical aspects of aerospace subjects, having been a pilot and space operations engineer. But I also love being an artist. I have been inspired throughout my life to depict my interpretations of the beauty of the natural world, our planet’s place in the universe, and humanity’s reach for the stars.

What are your favorite activities?

My favorite activities are flying, creating art, hiking and backpacking in the wilderness, and being with my family.

My wife and daughter are scientists, and I wish all girls and women are afforded any opportunities to develop and contribute their intellectual talents in the aerospace field.

Of what contribution or achievement are you most proud?

I’m proud of two different aspects of my aerospace career. First, as a US Air Force pilot, I logged over 200 combat reconnaissance missions, collecting vial intelligence which contributed to the fall of communism and the Soviet Union. In contrast, as a NASA space operations engineer, I’m also proud to have served in the development of the International Space Station, working in Russia with our partners in this bold, multi-national experiment.

Who has influenced you?

My influences and inspiration come from caring and supportive parents, teachers, mentors, as well as the great explorers of land, sea, air and space, some of whom I’ve had the honor of meeting and knowing. Knowing Neil Armstrong, among many astronauts and test pilots, is among the greatest influences.

What’s something surprising about you?

When I was 9 years old I was illuminated by the light of a nuclear explosion in space, a test over the Pacific Ocean while on a family vacation in Hawaii. I have flown NASA research aircraft directly through the eye-wall of hurricanes. I climbed the highest mountain in the continental US after artificial hip replacement surgery. Some of my paintings hang in the Pentagon and in the Russian Mission Control Center, Moscow…and my art orbits the Earth, in the form of Space Shuttle mission patches I designed and are displayed on the walls of the International Space Station.

Why are you supporting Girls Taking Up Space?

For too many millennia, women have been marginalized and stereotyped regarding their potential in the STEM subjects. My wife and daughter are scientists, and I wish all girls and women are afforded any opportunities to develop and contribute their intellectual talents in the aerospace field. Attending Space Camp is one of those activities that serves to inspire, motivate, and promote the confidence it takes for girls to pursue these interests.

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