Inspiring Women: This Science Reporter Will Show You What it Takes to Go Into Space
The Verge's Loren Grush has a cooler job than you.
When you think about going into outer space, you probably rely on what you saw in Armageddon or Interstellar — or perhaps even The Jetsons. But whether you're a fan of cartoon outer space or the real deal, you probably don't really know what it takes to be an astronaut in NASA's human spaceflight program. And that's where The Verge's science reporter Loren Grush comes in. She's the woman in the new video series Space Craft, in which she gets to participate in on-the-ground drills and zero gravity experiments to give viewers a taste of what it really takes to prepare to go into outer space. Talk about a cool job.
Plus, we love that Grush is an inspiring, strong woman who's taking on a typically male-dominated field and encouraging more gals to get involved in the sciences and space, even if it isn't always easy. Check out Livingly's email interview with Grush below and find out how she's gotten so far in her career and be sure to check out Space Craft to live vicariously through her awesome endeavors.
Tell us about how you got interested in space and how you landed at The Verge.
Space has always been a big part of my life. My parents were both engineers who worked on the Space Shuttle program at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, so conversations at the dinner table always revolved around upcoming flights and hardware problems they were working on. I think they’re the reason I love writing about human spaceflight and the commercial space industry so much — I’m drawn to the engineering stories.
I landed at The Verge after I spent a year writing about space for Popular Science. I saw a job listing on Facebook for a new science reporter dedicated to writing about spaceflight and NASA, while also doing video stories. I remember thinking at the time, “The Verge is asking me to come work for them.” I applied, had a fantastic interview, and then got the phone call while on travel for a rocket launch, ironically.
You're featured in a new video series, Space Craft. Why is this important and how does it impact your career?
The first season of Space Craft revolves around what it takes to be an astronaut and the skills required to go to space. I think a lot of people mostly see the fun aspects of going into orbit, such as floating around and making fun water bubbles. But the day-to-day tasks of being an astronaut are fairly challenging, both physically and mentally, and we really wanted to illustrate that by putting an average person like myself in these specialized scenarios.
Space Craft has been a great experience, and it’s just the first step toward doing more video projects, which is something I’m really passionate about. I’ve always loved creating films and telling stories visually, so I’m grateful that I’m able to do that with this series, while covering topics that I find incredibly interesting.
What is the best advice you've gotten from your parents in regards to your career?
It wasn’t exactly an explicit piece of advice, but I feel like I’ve learned to be critical from them. They were always very passionate about space, but they weren’t afraid to voice their opinions when they felt that people were going about a mission the wrong way or if they thought a strategy was too costly or unsafe. I’ve followed that example when it comes to analyzing decisions made by the aerospace industry. It doesn’t always make me popular, but I think it makes me a better journalist.
What is your advice to other women looking to get into a traditionally male-dominated field?
My main advice is to resist the feeling that you don’t belong. So many times I’ve gone to a space-related event or conference, and I’m one of a handful of women there. Plus, I’m usually not dressed the same, and I just feel like I stick out so awkwardly. Every time this happens, I have an impulse to run out of the room and never look back. But I’ve stuck these events out, and I feel like my journalism has grown because of it.
What are three things that have gotten you to where you are today?
Setting precise goals: When I first started working, I had really broad ambitions, such as breaking into the TV business or becoming a video journalist. Over time, I realized that a lot of people have those goals too, and it’s hard to move forward when thousands of others are all trying to do the same thing as you. So instead, I set a lot of goals that were much smaller in focus. For instance, I decided I wanted to specialize not just in science writing, but space. And then I found a publication that would let me write about it. Once I had established myself that way, I then turned my attention to video.
Capitalizing on what made me different: For the longest time, I felt like my background and passion for space made me a bit of a weirdo. But when I made the decision to become a science writer, I knew that I could lean on that experience to help me move forward. I feel like everyone can do that too. Our unique qualities are our biggest assets, so don’t be afraid to use them.
Being stubborn: I’m sure this aspect of my personality is annoying for some, but it definitely helped when I kept hearing the word “no.” I’ve found that a lot of people will try to tear you down and tell you that you can’t do something, and the best thing to do is to ignore them (as hard as that may be) and keep trying. It may take a while, but eventually you’ll find the people who say “yes,” and all you really need is one good connection to help you get where you want to be.
If you could change one thing about your industry, what would it be?
It saddens me that other publications feel the need to lay off their editorial staffs in order to “pivot” to video. It’s especially strange since I feel like writing and video go hand-in-hand, at least that’s been our standard at Vox Media. I’ll research and write a story for the website, and then I can quickly turn that article into a video script. Writers are essential for good video, and I don’t think it’s a difficult process to train them to write visually.
What is the best part of your day?
Getting my morning cup of coffee, of course.
Do you think August's solar eclipse got people more excited about space?
I definitely do! I think people are more interested in space and science than we realize, they just don’t feel like it’s accessible to them. So events like the eclipse, which everyone can see and be apart of, are great for showing people how space science impacts their lives. These events are great for helping me connect to people about space, and then I can tell them other related stories that they may never have sought out before.
At Livingly, our motto is "Live life beautifully." What does living beautifully mean to you?
To me, it means getting to those moments where everything in your life is in sync, and all of sudden you have a little jolt of happiness and contentment, either when you’re walking down the street or just going about your day. They don’t happen very often, and they often alternate between long periods of stress and hard work, but eventually everything comes together to give you one of those moments, and it’s pretty beautiful.