Tara Halt is a Program Analyst for A3 Technology, supporting the FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation. She holds an M.A. in International Science and Technology Policy with a concentration in Space Policy from the Elliott School. During grad school, she worked at Bryce Space and Technology as Aerospace Analyst supporting NASA Headquarters and interned at the Commercial Spaceflight Federation. In 2015, she graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University with a B.S. in Commercial Space Operations. Tara is an active member of the Space Generation Advisory Council and is currently the manager of the 2020 Space Generation Fusion Forum. She is also a 2016 Future Space Leaders Foundation Fellow.
Describe your current position and what made you interested in applying?
I am a Program Analyst working on a contract that supports the FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation. My duties include assisting the regulatory and rulemaking policy efforts. This is a new role that I started in January 2020. I was interested in applying because I wanted experience supporting a different agency after working on a NASA contract and I wanted to have firsthand knowledge of the regulatory process. After working at my previous company for over 3 years, it’s exciting to step out of my comfort zone and learn new skills.
What do you wish other people knew about your organization?
Most people outside of the space industry are not even aware that the FAA has a space focused office. The Office of Commercial Space Transportation ensures protection of the public, property, and the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States during commercial launches or reentry activities. There have been 14 launches so far in FY20 and the office currently has 24 active licenses. It’s a very exciting time at the FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation. With so many new operators and increased launch activity, it is important that the regulations are able to keep up with the fast pace of the industry. The FAA Office of Commercial Space recently launched its new website! You can check it out here: https://www.faa.gov/space/
What Elliott School courses would you recommend for students interested in your field and why?
The reason I choose the Elliot School for my Master’s was the opportunity to take classes, specifically focused on space policy. I took all of the space-related classes that were offered and loved them! In addition to those, I would highly recommend students in the Space Policy Institute take Governmental Budgeting. It has been immensely helpful to understand the process at a deeper level, especially when you are working as a government contractor. Another class I really enjoyed was Science & U.S. Politics. Since most of my classes were very space focused, it was really interesting to hear the perspectives of students who were studying other disciplines.
What was your experience with the job search post-graduation? Can you provide any wisdom for students starting their job search?
When I first moved to DC to start grad school in January 2016, I also started interning with the Commercial Spaceflight Federation. After interning there for almost 6 months, I looked for both internship and job opportunities. Over the summer, I took 9 credits so that I could have a lighter load during the rest of the school year. After doing a lot of interviews, I got an offer from the Tauri Group (now Bryce Space and Technology) to work on a contract supporting the NASA Office of the Chief Financial Officer. I worked at the Tauri Group/Bryce Space and Technology throughout grad school in a couple different roles. My main advice is to be open to either internship or full-time jobs while in graduate school because it gives you a lot more options and most employers are usually very accommodating when you have to leave work to get to class. My other advice is to take advantage of your network. When I first moved to DC, I only knew a couple people in my field but I attended a lot of events and happy hours that gave me the right contacts to land my first job. Another great way to meet people is to join non-profits like the Space Generation Advisory Council.
You’re a new addition to the crayon box, what color would you be and why?
I would be blue sky with silver sparkles because blue is my favorite color and life is always more fun with some sparkle in it!
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