Payload Pioneers 2023: Joanna Hon

When Joanna Hon was growing up in Canada, working in the space industry seemed like just a fantasy. Now, the 27-year old director of R&D at Turion Space says she is working to inspire others to chase their seemingly-impossible goals as well.

“I am a 5’1” woman of color who was raised by a single mom, and I am comfortable with sharing my experiences with adversity to demonstrate to others with relatable struggles that there is light at the end of the tunnel—that dreams do, in fact, come true,” Hon said.

Big bucks: Turion Space, a CA-based space sustainability startup founded in 2020, is building spacecraft that can clean up trash in orbit. Hon said her ideas have earned the company ~$6M in government funding from NASA, AFRL, and the Space Force.

“I am promoting the importance of space by securing funding opportunities that enable my team to design and build technologies and missions that directly contribute to more sustainable space operations,” she said. “I promote the importance of space by being dedicated to protecting it, and ensuring that it remains accessible for decades to come.”

Notable nomination: Turion Space CEO and cofounder Ryan Westerdahl had nothing but glowing things to say about Hon in his nomination.

She is the “most intelligent and hard working person I’ve ever met, and that’s saying something after nine years at SpaceX,” he said.

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