The Lunar Human Landing System (HLS): Perspectives of Early Career Team Members

Alex Miller

Blue Origin

Integrated Product Team Manager of Descent Element Payloads and Crew Systems

Alex Miller joined Blue Origin in April 2020 when he accepted the role of Lead Systems Engineer for Blue Moon Payload Integration. Shortly after he started, Blue Origin and the National Team were officially down-selected by NASA for the Human Landing System (HLS) competition. As a result, Alex also became acting integrated product team manager of Descent Element payloads and crew systems. Day-to-day activities in this role include coordinating closely with current/former astronauts and EVA experts to design the next generation of lunar exploration systems for the Artemis Program. Prior to Blue Origin, Alex worked for World View Enterprises, a stratospheric balloon startup, where he engaged in various roles including program manager, payload integrator, mission manager, and flight director. He earned a PhD in Exploration Systems Design from Arizona State University’s School of Earth and Space Exploration (ASU-SESE) in 2019.

Sumayya Abukhalil

Northrop Grumman

Space Systems Engineer

Sumayya Abukhalil is a systems engineer for Northrop Grumman’s Space Systems sector. Since starting at Northrop Grumman in 2019, she has worked on a variety of projects and proposals relating to the Lunar Gateway, now referred to as the Artemis program. Currently she serves as a member of the National Human Landing System (HLS) Team, competing for a 2024 HLS contract. 

She is a participant of the Northrop Grumman Pathways rotation program, which has allowed her to rotate between systems engineering (previous rotation), mission operations (current), and integration and testing (next rotation). Sumayya graduated from the University of Central Florida with a Bachelor’s in Aerospace Engineering. During her time as a student she was selected to be a part of the Brooke Owens Fellowship (class of 2017), her host institution being Orbital ATK. Additionally, having held the role as SEDS-UCF President for a year and having chaired SpaceVision 2017 in Cape Canaveral, Sumayya is a major advocate for SEDS.

Charity Duke

Lockheed Martin

Guidance, Navigation, & Control (GN&C) Manager, HLS National Team

Charity Duke is the lead of the Lockheed Martin Guidance, Navigation, and Control (GN&C) team for the National Team Human Landing System (HLS). She spent the first 13 years of her career as a member of the GN&C team for the Orion vehicle. She wrote the flight software to deploy the parachutes during entry, control the solar arrays, and process data from the star trackers and sun sensors. She has also served as the GN&C Subsystem Certified Principal Engineer for the Artemis II mission and led the GN&C teams for the Orbit Flight Phase, Backup Flight Software, and Fault Detection Isolation and Recovery. Charity now leads an intrepid group of GN&C engineers who are working to return mankind to the moon by 2024. Charity received her bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Engineering from Georgia Tech and her master’s degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Stanford.

Laura Henderson


Group Leader, Perception & Autonomy Group

Laura Henderson is the Group Leader for the Perception and Autonomy group at Draper. Laura joined Draper in 2018 as a member of the perception and localization group. Since then, she has made significant contributions to programs at the intersection of vision-based navigation, space exploration, and sensor fusion. 

Laura is currently serving as the Deputy RRPO (Rendezvous and Proximity Operations) Systems Lead and the TRN (Terrain Relative Navigation) & HD (Hazard Detection) Descent Element Lead for the National Team on the Human Landing System. 

Prior to joining Draper, Laura worked at NextGen Aeronautics, where she led the development of an underwater navigation sensor.