West, Mareta Nelle



Chapter

Beta Theta

Initiation Date

10/22/1936

Biography

Mareta West attended the University of Oklahoma where she earned a bachelor's degree in Geology and was a member of the Beta Theta chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma. West worked as a petroleum geologist with an oil company until she became the first female geologist hired by the U.S. Geological Survey in Arizona. West would go on to work for NASA and in 1969 was the only woman to work on the Geology Experiment Team for the Apollo 11, the first lunar landing. It was West who pinpointed the exact landing spot on the moon for the lunar lander called Eagle. After the Apollo 11 mission, West selected the landing site for other manned missions to the moon. In 1970, Kappa presented Mareta West with the Alumnae Achievement Award, the Fraternity's highest honor for personal and professional achievement. West passed away in 1998. On April 28, 2007 her cremated ashes were launched into space aboard the SpaceLoft-XL rocket as part of the first commercial attempt at a lunar burial. This was a sub-orbital launch, so while her remains entered space, they returned to earth and were recovered. West's remains were again launched into space aboard the Falcon 1 rocket on August 2, 2008, however the rocket failed two minutes after launch.

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