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Mission Guides

Introducing Your Guides for Mission Prep:
As you prepare for this musical space journey, Sarah Gillis, the Polaris Dawn crew, and a team of aerospace and musical experts will be guiding the way through each of the Mission Prep Zones.
Sarah Gillis
Violinist, Engineer, and Polaris Dawn Mission Specialist

Sarah Gillis is a Lead Space Operations Engineer at SpaceX, responsible for overseeing the company’s astronaut training program. This includes the development of mission-specific curriculum and training execution for both NASA and commercial astronauts who fly aboard the Dragon spacecraft. She prepared NASA astronauts for the first Demo-2 and Crew-1 missions, and most recently directly trained the Inspiration4 astronauts, the first all-civilian crew to go to orbit. Sarah is an experienced mission control operator, who has supported real-time operations for Dragon’s cargo resupply missions to and from the International Space Station as a Navigation Officer, and as a crew communicator for Dragon’s human spaceflight missions.

Raised from a young age to be a classical violinist, Sarah changed directions when a beloved high-school mentor, former NASA astronaut Joe Tanner, encouraged her to pursue a degree in aerospace engineering. In 2015, while studying engineering and dance at the University of Colorado, Boulder, Sarah started an internship at SpaceX, working on human-in-the-loop testing of the Dragon spacecraft interior before moving into the astronaut training program full-time. Originally from Boulder, Colorado, Sarah is an avid hiker, climber, and adventurer, all of which let her enjoy one of her favorite things – a cup of hot coffee while camping in the wilderness.

Jared Isaacman
Polaris Dawn Mission Commander

Jared Isaacman is the CEO of Shift4 (NYSE: FOUR), the leader in integrated payment processing solutions. He is an accomplished pilot & astronaut with over 7,000 flight hours of aviation experience, including ratings in multiple experimental and ex-military aircraft. He was the commander of Inspiration4, the world’s first all-civilian mission to space that helped raise over $240 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital® to help eradicate childhood cancer.

Jared also holds several world records including two speed-around-the-world flights in 2008 and 2009 that raised money and awareness for the Make-a-Wish Foundation. He has flown in over 100 airshows as part of the Black Diamond Jet Team, dedicating every performance to charitable causes. In 2011, Isaacman co-founded what would become the world’s largest private air force, Draken International, to train pilots for the United States Armed Forces.

Scott Poteet
Polaris Dawn Mission Pilot

Scott “Kidd” Poteet is a retired United States Air Force Lieutenant Colonel who served 20 years in various roles that include Commander of the 64th Aggressor Squadron, USAF Thunderbird #4 Demonstration Pilot, USAF Weapons School Graduate, Operational Test & Evaluation Pilot, and Flight Examiner. Kidd is a command pilot with over 3,200 flying hours in the F-16, A-4, T-38, T-37, T-3, and Alpha Jet. Kidd has logged over 400 hours of combat time during Operations Northern Watch, Southern Watch, Joint Guardian, Freedom’s Sentinel, and Resolute Support.

Following his Air Force career, Kidd served in various roles to include Director of Business Development at Draken International and VP of Strategy at Shift4 (NYSE: FOUR). He most recently served as the Mission Director of Inspiration4, the world’s first all-civilian mission to space that helped raise over $240 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital® in an effort to help eradicate childhood cancer. Kidd is also an accomplished collegiate runner and triathlete, competing in 15 Ironman triathlons since 2000, which includes four Ironman World Championships in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.

Anna Menon
Polaris Dawn Mission Specialist & Medical Officer

Anna Menon is a Lead Space Operations Engineer at SpaceX, where she manages the development of crew operations and serves in mission control as both a Mission Director and crew communicator. During her tenure at SpaceX, she has led the implementation of Dragon’s crew capabilities, helped create the crew communicator operator role, and developed critical operational responses to vehicle emergencies such as a fire or cabin depressurization. Anna served in mission control during multiple Dragon missions, such as Demo-2, Crew-1, CRS-22, CRS-23, Crew-3, Crew-4, and Axiom-1.

Prior to SpaceX, Anna worked for seven years at NASA as a biomedical flight controller for the International Space Station. In this role, she supported space station crews from mission control, helped integrate international partner engineers and medical care, and led the planning and execution of all biomedical operations for Expedition 47/48. She received her bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and Spanish from Texas Christian University and her master’s degree in Biomedical Engineering from Duke University. Service and applying her engineering background to helping others is important to Anna. Immediately after the 2015 earthquake in Nepal, she supported the World Health Organization water and sanitation response and has also volunteered with the Engineers Without Borders and Engineering World Health organizations. Her dream of flying to space began in fourth grade when her teacher Alison Smith Balch (daughter of Space Shuttle Challenger pilot Michael J. Smith) took her on an immersive field trip at NASA. In addition to pursuing her lifelong passion for space, Anna enjoys hiking, flying small airplanes, and salsa dancing, and her greatest love is her wonderful family, including husband Anil, son James, and daughter Grace.

Kevin Day
Composer, Conductor, & Pianist

Kevin Day (b. 1996) is an internationally acclaimed composer, conductor, and jazz pianist based in San Diego, California. Known for his exuberant, introspective, and groove-oriented composition style, Mr Day’s music fuses genres such as jazz, contemporary classical, R&B, Soul, and more. He has been performed by some of the world’s top instrumental soloists, wind bands, chamber ensembles, and symphony orchestras. He has composed over 250 works, nine concerti, and has had performances throughout the United States, Canada, Austria, Taiwan, South Africa, Australia, Japan, and more.

Mr. Day is the recipient of a MacDowell Fellowship for Music Composition, a winner of the BMI Composer Award, the TCU Alumni Outstanding Young Professional Award, a three-time ASCAP Morton Gould Finalist, a finalist for the ABA Sousa-Oswald Award, and a finalist for the NBA Revelli Award. His most recent works include his acclaimed Concerto for Wind Ensemble, as well as a double concerto for trombone and piano entitled Departures, which will be premiered later this year by the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra.

Jeri Lynne Johnson
Orchestra Conductor, Innovative Strategist

In 2005 Jeri Lynne Johnson made history as the first Black woman to win an international conducting prize when she was awarded the Taki Alsop Conducting Fellowship.  Since then she has continued to break barriers in Europe and the US as the first woman and/or African-American woman on the podium for many orchestras and opera companies in the US and Europe including the Bournemouth Symphony (UK), the Weimar Staatskapelle.  Recent conducting engagements include performances with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra, Sao Paulo Municipal Symphony Orchestra, and Santa Fe Opera.  Jeri was also selected to conduct the Pulitzer Prize winning composition «Stride» by Tania Leon as part of the composer’s tribute for the 2022 Kennedy Center Honors performance.   

Lauded by the L.A Times as  «a stunning, rhythmically vital conductor», Jeri is a versatile artist who is comfortable with a variety of genres and styles, Jeri has developed a reputation for offering masterful and compelling performances of contemporary repertoire and has led numerous world premieres.  Upcoming 2022-2023 engagements include performances with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Omaha Symphony, Symphony Nova Scotia, Opera Theater of Saint Louis and Santa Fe Pro Musica among others.

Sue Levine
Violinist, Music Educator, Mom

Sue Levine has an extensive background in both music education and non-profit management. After earning violin performance degrees from the Eastman School of Music and the University of Illinois, she played professionally, and taught violin for many years across Minneapolis, Boston, and Boulder as a certified Suzuki Violin Teacher Trainer. Transitioning into non-profit leadership, Sue served as the Executive Director of the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra for seven years. She then spent thirteen years as the head administrator for schools in Colorado, California, and Oregon. Most importantly, she is Sarah Gillis’ mom.

Rickey Minor
Director, Producer, Composer, Conductor and Author

Rickey Minor has worked with the biggest music talent in the world, including: Beyonce, Usher, Adele, Stevie Wonder, Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, Rihanna, Gwen Stefani, Janelle Monae, Demi Lovato, Chance The Rapper, Keith Urban, Diana Ross, Aretha Franklin, Khalid, Katy Perry, Sting, Jennifer Lopez, H.E.R., Arianna Grande, John Legend, Carrie Underwood, Lenny Kravitz, Gladys Knight, Brandi Carlisle, Garth Brooks, Ray Charles, Ella Mai, Faith Hill, Jennifer Hudson, Elton John, Common, Andra Day, Cynthia Erivo, and Ed Sheeran.

Rickey’s numerous television credits include The Tonight Show starring Jay Leno, American Idol, The Kennedy Center Honors, The American Music Awards, The Super Bowl, The Grammys, The Emmys, and The Oscars.

Rickey has received 15 Emmy® Award nominations for Outstanding Music Direction.

Joe Tanner

Joe Tanner started working for NASA Johnson Space Center in 1984 as an aerospace engineer and research pilot. His primary flying responsibilities involved teaching the astronaut pilots Space Shuttle landing techniques in the Shuttle Training Aircraft and instructing the pilots and mission specialists in the T-38. In addition to his flying duties, Tanner held positions as the aviation safety officer, the head of the pilot section, and the Deputy Chief of the Aircraft Operations Division (AOD). He has accumulated more than 8,900 hours in military and NASA aircraft.

Selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA in March 1992, Tanner reported to the Astronaut Office in August 1992. He completed one year of initial training and worked in the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory before being assigned to his first mission. Tanner also served as part of the Astronaut Support Personnel team at the Kennedy Space Center, supporting Space Shuttle launches and landings, and as EVA Branch Chief . A veteran of four space flights Tanner has logged over 1069 hours in space, including over 46 EVA hours in 7 space walks. He served as a mission specialist on STS-66 in 1994, STS-82 in 1997, STS-97 in 2000, and STS-115 in 2006.

Tanner retired from NASA in August 2008. Currently Tanner is a Senior Instructor in the University of Colorado Aerospace Engineering Sciences Department in Boulder, Colorado, teaching and mentoring undergraduate and graduate students in space systems design. He is also a self-employed aerospace systems consultant.