Susan Finley: The Longest-Serving Woman At NASA


December 6, 2017 14:52 By Fabiosa

Wouldn't it be nice if the media suddenly started to celebrate strong, intelligent women, thus creating positive role-models for young girls and encouraging them to thrive in all aspects of life. With a 60-year career at NASA, Susan G. Finley is the perfect choice to start with.

Finley got her start in 1958

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Susan discovered her vast talent for mathematics and computing during her studies at the Scripps College. Although she aimed to become an architect, Susan soon realized that engineering is her true calling. When she was only 21, she left her studies to become an engineer in a thermodynamics research group.

In 1958, Finley got a job at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in CA. Unbelievable by today's standards, Susan's job was to calculate rocket trajectories by hand. She was so good at her job that her manual calculations showed the Ranger 3 mission was 22,000 miles off course.

In the 1980s, she wrote the software for NASA's Deep Space Network

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By 1980s, computers have replaced human calculations, and Finley was working on software testing and subsystem engineering. Nowadays, the Deep Space Network program (one of her developments) communicates with every deep space probe that was launched by NASA or any other space agency.

During these years, as Susan herself said, it was her greatest achievement. Finley worked with the Russians and the French in gathering data about planet Venus. Keep in mind that this was during the Cold War, and there was no room for error. Still, Susan cites this project as the most exciting one in her career.

2013-NASA Group Achievement Award, NASA

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In 2013, Susan got nine certificates for being a part of various NASA projects. Over the years, Finley was awarded multiple times ias she proved herself to be an invaluable asset for NASA. The number of years which she has been with NASA are the best proof of her work.

Susan Finley, a superwoman by all standards, managed to have a beautiful family life as well. With a loving husband and two sons, Susan somehow always found the time for her loved ones. Furthermore, Susan is still working at NASA and seems to be irreplaceable as ever. 

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