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Lillian Kim living la dolce vita supporting the Space Launch System in Italy

Lillian Kim

In May 2023, Lillian Kim graduated from the Ohio State University and a few months later she was living in Huntsville, AL, and supporting the ESSCA contract as a Space Launch System (SLS) Payload Integration Systems Engineer.

On April 22-24, 2024, Lillian visited the Thales Alenia Space Italy (TAS-I) facilities in Turin, Italy, where she supported a series of Technical Inter-change Meetings (TIM) on the Interface Control Document (ICD) for the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Lunar I-Hab Gateway space station habitation module. (In May, she received a Spot bonus for her efforts.)

Lillian is indeed living la dolce vita (the sweet life), a life much different than originally planned.

“I always wanted to be a doctor,” she said. “When I started college, I decided to go the engineering route instead to give myself some flexibility and ended up loving it!

“I got my Bachelor’s in Industrial and Systems Engineering with a focus in Human Systems Integration and Design and a minor in Studio Art just for fun. I’d love to go back to get my Master’s in Systems Engineering at some point; I’m not sure if medical school is still in my future.”

The future is definitely now for Lillian, as she and her ESSCA coworker, Andrew Hartland, a Lead Systems Engineer for Payload Integrations with Jacobs, support the development of the I-Hab mock-up.

The Lunar I-Hab module is part of ESA’s contribution to NASA’s Lunar Gateway, the new international space station that will orbit the Moon as part of the Artemis Program. In addition to multiple docking ports, the module features a small galley, personal crew compartments for visiting astronauts, and exercise and medical areas.

The actual I-Hab will eventually launch aboard Artemis IV in 2028, which will bring the module and astronauts in orbit around the Moon, docking the modules together to continue building.

For a recent graduate from Medina, OH, a suburb located about 35 miles south of Cleveland, her first trip to Europe for a technical review with limited experience in aerospace may have been daunting, but she took it in stride – and had plenty of assistance.

“I had absolutely no background in aerospace, but that wasn’t really a problem to Andrew,” she said. “It was intimidating, but after a few weeks of research and homework, I was put on the I-Hab project.

“I’ve been learning a lot while on the job and working hard to catch up, but Andrew and my coworkers have been very understanding and offer a lot of support while I figure things out.”

As the change package engineer, Lillian is basically the owner of the I-Hab document, which was the focus of conversations during their face-to-face in Turin. She recorded edits and updates live during the discussions and will facilitate the process to have the official document released.

“We had a great time meeting our colleagues at TAS-I and ESA, and overall it was a super productive week!” said Lillian. “We spent most of our time in a conference room at TAS-I, but were lucky enough to be able to visit the Lunar I-Hab mock-up!”

(Left) The team visits the Lunar I-Hab mock-up in Turin, Italy.

ESSCA’s Lillian Kim is in the front row (pink blouse)

and Andrew Hartland is directly behind her.

Lillian Kim on the steps of the Lunar I-Hab mock-up.


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