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Meet Jasmin Moghbeli, a Marine helicopter pilot and mom of twins who is leading a crew to the space station

Jasmin Moghbeli to lead crew to space station
Combat helicopter pilot, mother of twins, to lead international crew to space station 02:43

Jasmin Moghbeli is leading a crew set to blast off on a SpaceX rocket early Saturday, after NASA scrubbed launch plans a day before to resolve unspecified paperwork issues. 

The mission will mark Moghbeli's first trip into space – a dream come true for the Marine helicopter pilot and 40-year-old mom of twins who always knew she wanted to be an astronaut.

"It's pretty funny, because in my sixth-grade yearbook, you know there's that page of what everyone wants to be, and mine says astronaut," she told CBS News. 

The SpaceX Crew-7 flight will take an international team of four to the space station. Moghbeli will be the only American abroad, and is leading the mission.

The daughter of Iranian political refugees, Moghbeli went to astronaut camp as a teenager and got a degree at MIT. She played three sports, including basketball, and with space in mind studied aeronautical engineering. 

She later had a gutsy career as a Marine attack helicopter pilot, serving in more than 150 combat missions – part family tradition, part service to her country and part in service to her space dreams. 

"I never wanted to close the door to becoming an astronaut," Moghbeli  said, "and military service certainly was not closing that door." 

She said the fact that humans go to space at all is "still really mind-blowing" to her.

Moghbeli is looking forward to the view.

"Every astronaut I've talked to has said looking back at Earth changed their perspective," she said. "I can't imagine what that's like for the first time. I even remember seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time and I thought that was incredible, but looking back at our home planet from space, i just can't imagine."

To her, the mission is about determination, exploration and inspiration, especially to the next generation of girls like her twin daughters Zelda and Estelle. 

"When they … see the diverse crews that are going up there, they realize they can be part of this, whether it's becoming an astronaut or something else. They realize they can do it as well," Moghbeli  said. 

"We as humans can't help but explore," she said. "I also think it's really important in inspiring the next generation."

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