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InTechnology Podcast

NASA Rocket Scientist Talks Space Exploration and Quantum Being (202)

In this episode of InTechnology, Camille gets into humanity and space exploration with Shehnaz Soni, Senior System Engineer at NASA and author of The Quantum Being. The conversation covers the why and how of space exploration along with Shehnaz’s philosophical takes on space, time, and human consciousness.

Read The Quantum Being here.

Visit Shehnaz Soni’s website.

To find the transcription of this podcast, scroll to the bottom of the page.

To find more episodes of InTechnology, visit our homepage. To read more about cybersecurity, sustainability, and technology topics, visit our blog.

The views and opinions expressed are those of the guests and author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Intel Corporation.

Follow our host Camille @morhardt.

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The Why and How of Space Exploration

Shehnaz first gets into her involvement with the Artemis III project, which will be the manned mission to land on the dark side of the moon and remain there for a week. She notes how this project is a partnership between entities including NASA, SpaceX, Lockheed Martin, the European Space Agency, and Boeing. She also explains how the Artemis project itself is being built up in stages much like the International Space Station was. Shehnaz tells Camille how she sees the drive of humanity toward space exploration as an extension of humanity’s desire to explore beyond ourselves from the very beginning. However, she notes that space exploration should be much more like Star Trek where we learn to explore and peacefully coexist at the same time. Shehnaz believes that taking humans to the Moon and Mars will open doors for new resources and for changing our understanding of humanity and the universe.

Getting Philosophical about Space, Time, and Human Consciousness

Camille and Shehnaz then dive deeper into the philosophical side of space, time, and humanity. Going back to her own upbringing, Shehnaz details how she found hope and inspiration as a young girl in Pakistan by looking to the sky and wanting to learn more about the light, both on a scientific level and on a more spiritual level. She later converged her aviation, aeronautics, and aerospace engineering knowledge with her philosophical revelations in her book. Ultimately, Shehnaz sees time only as a perception, and she believes people should give themselves permission to follow what they are passionate about. To bring things back to space exploration, she describes how human consciousness will need to expand particularly when it comes to reliance on machines, which will be necessary in space.

Shehnaz Soni, Senior System Engineer at NASA and author of The Quantum Being

Shehnaz Soni NASA Artemis space exploration

Shehnaz is currently a Senior System Engineer at NASA working on Artemis III, with previous roles of Senior Flight Software Engineer and Senior Flight System Engineer. Before NASA, she spent over two decades at Boeing in a variety of engineering roles, working on projects such as the Space Launch System and the International Space Station. Her education includes a degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from the University of California, Irvine. Shehnaz is also a self-professed Quantum Coach and Spiritual Alchemist with a passion for combining science and spirituality, as evidenced in her book The Quantum Being: A Self-Sustaining and Magnificent Human Craft.

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Camille Morhardt  00:11

I’m Camille Morhardt, host of InTechnology podcast and today I have a very special guest in Shehnaz Soni. Not only is she an aerospace engineer for NASA, where she’s working on the human landing system for the program, Artemis, which is humanity’s attempt to create a permanent base on the Moon from which we can explore Mars and beyond. Prior to that, she’s worked for two decades at Boeing, and she’s worked with SpaceX, and she’s worked on the International Space Station, flight systems engineer and all sorts of other kinds of flight-related and aerospace-related engineering. She’s also a person who has come from what I would consider to be unimaginable challenges imposed from the outside. And yet, when you meet her, you’ll find that she emanates focus and light. And in fact, she’s written a book, The Quantum Being, which is about that journey. And also, I would consider an offering to other people to help themselves find light. Welcome, Shehnaz.

Shehnaz Soni  01:26

Thank you for having me. I’m so excited about this opportunity.

Camille Morhardt  01:30

What exactly are you working on for the Artemis mission? You’re working on the human landing system?

Shehnaz Soni  01:39

So basically, I’m working with NASA right now. So the actual starship is going to be built by SpaceX, and NASA pretty much is running the show. So we have all these different pieces. So we have SpaceX making the starship, we have the Orion capsule, coming from Lockheed Martin and European Space Agency. And then we have space launch system rocket that Boeing is prime contract in. And then we basically have this mission, just like International Space Station was built up in space. Artemis kind of is built on missions. So we already launched the first one, we’re going to launch the second one in 2025. And then so on.

So I’m working on third onwards, because that’s when it becomes manned mission, where astronaut not only goes to the lunar orbit, they actually land on the dark side of the moon. And the first mission that will stay there for one week. My role is a senior system engineer, and it’s all about herding the cattle, and making sure that we do everything right. And we follow the timeline with all the constraints with the astronauts’ health kept in mind. And it’s a very beautiful dance. It’s a very complex dance. But what it does, if you think about it, when you do something so challenging, that everybody is working together to create this event.

And I think, to me, working together on a cause that’s going to expand our consciousness is always going to be good. And what that looks like we can definitely choose, it doesn’t all have to be going on a Moon and Mars, there are many ways to go to the mountain. But at least for now, that to me is how I see it, which is why I’m working and supporting that mission.

Camille Morhardt  03:15

How do you prepare for risk or unknowns when you’re dealing with something like space? I mean, we don’t know that well, presumably, what could possibly happen? So how are you factoring that kind of thing in?

Shehnaz Soni  03:27

Right? So you’re talking about unknown of going, doing something that you’ve never done before?

Camille Morhardt  03:32

Yeah, and I started to limit it to kind of like, the threat landscape or the known threat landscape, or I was even thinking of kind of cybersecurity. And now you’ve got this assembled lunar gateway, which is kind of like a floating base above, orbiting base above the moon that then astronauts can go up and down from, landing on the moon and back. And I was thinking of it in kind of that limited context of what if something should go wrong with like, the systems? And how do you address those?

Shehnaz Soni  04:05

There’s definitely going to be a lot of interesting questions. Because right now, like, you know, for example, Gateway, which is kind of most of our team is based in Houston for that, they’re working with United Arab Emirates to kind of collaborate, right, on that.  Because it’s a mini space station on the non rectilinear Halo orbit. That’s pretty much what it is. And so you’re right, I think it’s like you’re asking a lot of good questions. And I think that that connects with where the AI is going, that connects with what Elon is doing with all his other projects, and how with this type of evolution, because we’re going to need some sort of automation for the Gateway to exist by itself, and there is a human in the loop. You know, we use that terminology as an engineer. The human is always going to be in the loop.

Because at the end of the day, we are creating this for our next step. We’re creating this for entertainment. We’re creating this so that we can play together.  I’m going to give you an extreme example.  In the Stone Age, we were living with each other like a like a barbaric people, you know, like not really nice or anything. That was one extreme, right. And we have gone through many stages where we have been constantly conquering land and trying to take over and just doing all these extremely egoistic thing. But now I feel like that we should dance more along the line where how can we all coexist, like in a Star Trek way, where everybody gets to do what they wanted to, right? So in that space, whether we still all as a humanity, want explore going to Moon and Mars, I personally think that there will be people like that, who wants to do that.  Because it’s always good to make sure that you integrate to life on Earth. 100%. I agree with that.

Camille Morhardt  05:43

I know you work with space time, because space time is a continuum. But I really only know that theoretically, is that something you have to address logically in the space missions that you’re working on? Or is everything close enough to Earth that it’s not factored in, the change in space and time?

Shehnaz Soni  06:01

It’s an interesting question that you’re asking, because you’re asking me to converge, what I believe in based on everything that I express, and how does it relate to the fact that I do work in the arena, which is all about taking the rocket beyond Earth and other places. I look at that, as I have to give you another reference of a movie Contact where Jodie Foster, you know, and she does end up experiencing, right, something that she experiences. And when she wants to convey to other people, you know, they make a fool out of her, right, because they wanted to hide the actual evidence that she truly was experiencing something that was beyond. So that is how I actually compare my current situation, with my work as a rocket scientist, and with my passion as spiritual alchemist, right? As a quantum being. And the way I converge the two of them is that I actually do see that the very fact that we have been talking about Moon and Mars and living there, for the last 50 years; however, now we are finally, doing something that is not just done by one country or one organization. It’s done at the mass level, because everybody’s coming to the same conclusion that we need to open the door to figure out living in this 3D form on other planets like Moon and Mars.

I think we actually are really seriously wanting to create that reality because it opens the door for us to tap into resources that we never had access to before. And it also taps us to kind of just get ready to become the human craft that we were meant to be, it actually aligns with my “quantum being” concept because we are human craft. And we are not meant to stay in one place. That actually requires you to traverse yourself in space and time in all of your existence, your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual, and the very fact that finally, you know, we’ve been dreaming about it in our spiritual realm. Finally, we’re going to do it in our physical realm. So I believe it will open the door for us to actually know what really the truth is. Because if anything is hidden, is going to come to the surface.

Camille Morhardt  08:16

Why is humanity having a permanent station on the moon and then exploring further out going to bring these things to the surface?

Shehnaz Soni  08:24

You know, we have a lot of narratives on what really Moon is, right? We have a narrative on what really Mars is. We also have a narrative that what actually has not been spoken to, you know, just general public-wise in terms of what really is going on on Earth, right? There are lots of questions that are there and they have many different school of thoughts. What I’m saying is that it will open the door for us to comprehend our consciousness, because we are making an attempt of doing something we have never done before.

Camille Morhardt  08:55

Collectively. Is that a part of it?

Shehnaz Soni  09:03

100%, collectively.  And then to some extent, we do have a little competition here and there, like, you know, India already landed to the dark side of the Moon. However, you know, we’re going to do the manned landing, so that is our huge accomplishment. So there is going to be that which will also encourage technological evolution, right? So there is just a lot of things attached to it.

Like to me, if you want to evolve technologically, you have two ways to do it. One is you put all your energy in defense, right?  Or worrying about that you’re gonna get attacked by another country, which is kind of a fear-based mindset. Or you can do it that let’s explore and see what other entities are out there. So it’s kind of a little bit of a Star Trek mindset. And I, if I have to favor between one or the other, I favor the Star Trek mindset.

Camille Morhardt  09:43

What do you do, and what should people do with fear?

Shehnaz Soni  09:47

So first, fear stands for False Emotion Appearing Real. As an engineer I’m sure we can appreciate the acronyms. Right? So, okay, so the best thing to do for fear is that first step is to acknowledge it. And second step is that what are you giving up because of this fear? If you can answer that question, you have answered your question. If you are kind of showing up as a victim growing up in Pakistan, you know, there was a point called Amahl Ikbal. He’s like, incredible, man, just like Khalil Gibran. And his poetry would always make a point that the victim is equally responsible for his or her grief as the perpetrator. So that was the mindset he had, right. And this was like, in 70s, you know, I was reading his poetry and I was just loving it. And if you really think about if everybody in the world even just understand that one message, just that one message, then what’s going to happen is people will take that responsibility that they have given it to somebody else. And that will help them get out of the fear.

Because fear generally means that we are coming in our own way, because we are following somebody else’s agenda. Like if you really think about us existing at the subatomic level, if you can go all the way to the small micro level of your existence, and change the charge, then the rest of the stuff unfolds. And you can pretty much solve any problem. And you can do it many ways you can do it mentally, you can do it physically, or you can do it spiritually, right, or emotionally. So the point is that when you start recognizing the things about yourself by unwinding, like fear, for example, what happens, it opens the door for you to see something that you did not see before. And just like based on quantum physics, observation affects momentum, you have changed the charge on the electron. And that’s how you ended up opening the door, to upgrade yourself, and to actually even move forward and free yourself.

Camille Morhardt  11:50

So where should we begin?

Shehnaz Soni  11:52

I have to say that we can begin where one becomes aware of the self-awareness. Where we become so conscious and aware that we wonder that who are we in the big scheme of life.  We can begin there, that’s where, for me, at least, I became aware of my existence. And when that happened to me, I was trapped in a body of a young girl in a very patriarchal culture in Pakistan. And I saw myself a whole bunch of helplessness, people feeling pretty much sorry for themselves, and it was a very suppressed environment. Right away, I was trying to understand that “Is this it? There has to be more.” And then the only way I would feel some light coming through was by looking up in the sky, which is the reason I always used that as my respite, you know, that as my escape from my reality. And the more I would do that, and I would see the shiny stars, right, like, I would see the moonlight or the sunlight and it kind of made me aware that there is light, and there is darkness. I just like light. And I like to know more about light.

And that completely opened the door for me to be so curious about every single thing, including when you see the dew you know on a leaf, and you know how it reflects the sunlight? And it makes that beautiful geometry? Like, I would look at that, and I would say, “My God, just the most beautiful sight.” And then of course, I would assume that everybody looks at the world like I do. And when I would ask people about all these questions, they would look at me like I’m a unicorn. So it was very hard, right? Because you’re in this childlike magical feeling, looking everything through spider with glasses, however, you’re not getting any reciprocity, or anybody understanding you, so you almost start questioning yourself. So that was my beginning.

Camille Morhardt  13:48

Do you find that people, have you found that reciprocity since that time?

Shehnaz Soni  13:54

Yes.  But in order for me to actually really get the reciprocity, I had to really understand what do I want, or what aligns me with everything, right? And that has been quite a journey. I feel like I’m beginning to understand that, which is why I’m so excited about sharing it with others, right? And that’s why I, like I’m physically I’m able to understand that and it’s a layered approach, right? Because we are a layered species, like I say, we’re not just physical or emotional or mental or spiritual. So I’m actually learning it, and I’m actually sharing it. So it’s kind of like, I’m building a plane while I’m flying it, but it’s fun.

Camille Morhardt  14:34

As you’re walking through these concepts in your book, The Quantum Being, you said to you, it’s quite apparent that the same concepts of physics that you work on in aviation and aeronautics and aerospace engineering are really described spiritually in different language, but it’s the same concept. And yet, you said, your contacts on LinkedIn don’t read your book. So I’m curious how that sits with you?  Are you actively trying to bridge it? Or is it, those two things co-exist in their own separate worlds?

Shehnaz Soni  15:12

Actually, I’m learning that I’m converging them, and I’m extremely happy about that. And I’m teaching others to do the same. Because I think it’s time that we don’t make so many boxes, where we don’t even know how to connect them ourselves. But I feel like I have lived a life in my creativity, where I have a book, and I have a coaching and I, you know, public speak. And then in my logical world, I work on a rocket, and design a rocket, and you know, work as an engineer and software engineer. And I’ve kept them into different boxes for a very long time only, because, to some extent, you know, you want to make sure you have a house before you can write a book, right? Because if you don’t have a roof, then you’re not gonna be able to write a book. So it’s kind of like that, like, the framework, right? The matrix world that we live in. And that is where my logical mind goes.

Camille Morhardt  15:58

Yeah, and you’ve also said, in terms of that coexistence, you said, you’re the same person who was a little girl, walking down the street where you grew up, and unfortunately witnessed a bus explode that was full of people. And you’re also the same person who was like in the room with top generals, I think you mentioned you’re the only woman, you were the only foreign-born person in the room. Just a handful of people, really–and this was while you were working on missile programs and missile defense programs at Boeing. And you said those, those two should Shehnaz’s coexist.  So are you like when you’re talking about merging these two things are bridging the gap, is it like coming into a whole, the whole existence, kind of merged together unified together, or that multiples of you can exist in the same present?

Shehnaz Soni  17:01

Right. It’s kind of looking at things from multi-layer perspective, like a kaleidoscope.  We are kind of layered in so many ways. So one way you can say that you can compare yourself when you think of time as linear, and you compare your current self with your past self, and seeing are converging together. Right? So that’s one perspective, based on the fact that we do categorize time in past versus present.

But time technically, you know, I mean, to me, and it’s very interesting, I have read Mike Dooley’s book, and it says, Time stands for Trace each other Into Material Existence, that I don’t give time, the perception that other people have, because it affects your multidimensional framework when you get attached to that linear time set. And I’ll give you an example. By the way, this is a great example. Have you watched a movie called Lucy?

Camille Morhardt  17:55


Shehnaz Soni  17:55

In that movie, they basically show a character who ends up taking a pill that transforms her percentage of brain performance from whatever it was–less than 10–to 100. And while she’s approaching the point where she’s going to be exploring, because you know, ultimately, you don’t want to exist, because when you get to 100, why would you want to be in this confined body, you become a quanta of light. So then that happens, right before that, she was asked one of the most important question by Morgan Freeman character. Okay, so I’m going to share this with you. And he asks her, “What is time?” right, and “What are we here for?” There is a movie going on on the television, and it’s about car being raced through, you know, from a road? And then the girl explains that “If I fast forward this movie up to infinity, do you see this car?” You know, because the car is going and it’s a scene, it’s a passing scene. So see, the thing is, our existence is just a snapshot. And like, if you want to use the word time, right?

But the point, like it was explained, that time truly does not exist. It’s a perception. And that’s why I don’t like to give importance to time. But I really agree with you, that one of the ways we can converge ourselves, like I was actually looking at it even from a linear mindset, that if you are in your present tense, and you have a life where you can play guitar, and you can you also have many other thing you do, but because you would love to play more guitar, but you are doing this bartending work, because you have to make money, for example. What I’m saying is that let’s create a reality where we do exactly what we wanted to do. So if you want to play guitar and make money, we should be able to, because we’re going to make such a beautiful music that it’ll be worth it for people to listen to. That is the type of conversions that does not require us to be affected by who we were in the past, or who are we in the present, or what the consensus reality is.

So it is kind of a quantum dance you’re creating, because you are giving permission to yourself to be who you want to be and at the same time, you are enabling other people to say, “You know what? I don’t want to do this either. Why don’t I do what I want to do.” So if everybody does what they really want to do, that’s how we are going to create that karma synchrony, the bliss state, the light body activation, which is my, which is what I say is like being one, and more than not.

Camille Morhardt  20:16

Do you pull these concepts into your daily work, like your career? Does, how you’re thinking about this effect, like how you’re building the—

Shehnaz Soni  20:26

Yes, I mean, 100%. What it actually affect says that you’re able to manage multiple level of activities, because you are able to, you’re able to kind of give yourself a variety in your experiences. Because a lot of time people, when they are not given that variety in their experiences, they’re not really learning about themselves, that what really is their passion.  If you always work day to day, and you’ve never even given yourself a time to hold the guitar in your hand, you are not going to know that you can play the best guitar, because you never even gave yourself permission to do that.

So the point of the story is that with everything that I’m sharing here, that is kind of helps people to recognize that they should give themselves that permission, right? So that they can show up in other playgrounds and experience other things. Because then they can say that, “Oh, you know what, when I do this, I really feel very relaxed.” Or “I really feel that I’m actually like really gifted at it. Like I actually have fun with it”. So it’s kind of along the line where you basically have to do that yourself by being a kid in the playground.

Camille Morhardt  21:36

Do you have expectations about what humanity is going to find on the path toward, you were saying, understanding our own consciousness better? Once we get to the moon and beyond? Do you think humans are going to find anything outside life or outside intelligence? I think what you’re talking about of human consciousness is like a collective inside consciousness; is there going to be an external kind of force that humans are going to encounter, in your opinion?

Shehnaz Soni  22:05

I think that we’re definitely going to have expansion in our consciousness, because we’re going to learn about ourselves at a deeper level, because we’re going to get more in touch with our future self. Because we’re kind of on a crossroad in where we are headed, right? Because we are as a human species versus as machine and how far you want to go and what type of integration you’re looking at. I do believe that when we start living on Moon and Mars, we’re gonna have to become more dependent on machine, right? Because as a human, we have environmental challenge. We can’t even live without the machine like, like a suit, you can’t even survive. So if you think about it, we are definitely relying on a machine more. So maybe it’s going to become a pathway to learn about us that how far do we want to go in that direction? Maybe that’s a lesson by itself. It’s almost like, because we have this quest that we want to understand ourselves. So they’re going to definitely do it. And we have to honor that to get there to recognize that, then how far do you go?

Camille Morhardt  23:04

I understand. Well, why didn’t it work before humans went to the moon before. It’s been over 50 years since there’s been a person on the moon. But I think there was a time when people thought, you know, that picture of Earth floating in the sky would just sort of transform how humans treated one another. It doesn’t seem like it panned out. I’m just wondering, it didn’t seem like it had the impact that people thought it might, unifying humanity and kind of showing how small or how really all kind of rely on one another.

Shehnaz Soni  23:38

I guess I must have missed the memo because see, I wasn’t here. I wasn’t in America. But that’s interesting. And I’m so glad you’re asking this question, because I’ve never heard that. Never taught that intent. So maybe, maybe that wasn’t globally communicated properly.

We talk about going and visiting so many different things, but having to live on a different planet is a whole new ballgame, right? So it opens the door for working us together. Because if we don’t work together as a country–we’re not even talking about like working together within one country–we’re talking about all the country needs to reunite for what we are wanting to do with the Artemis mission. So to me, if this gives an opportunity for everybody to kind of show up in the most harmonious way, then I think that that serves a purpose just by itself, even if that happens, right? And ultimately, you know, we have to prove it by living it, right, because you can’t just prove it by looking at it. If you want to feel the interconnectedness, you have to feel it in your heart, in your soul. You can’t just watch the art floating around and buy into it because now it’s time that we all embody it. And I think in order to embody it, people will all have to show up for themselves, first.

Camille Morhardt  24:45

Do you feel like the ISS was kind of a first step or prototype of this? Did it move humanity forward and so now we’re at the next step?

Shehnaz Soni  24:55

I would say that yes; may not be as expedient as we all want sometimes, but I do believe it did. Because the space station was built up in the space and there were international countries involved in it, you know, and there were definitely a lot of learning lessons there, as well. However, it did become a paradigm in many ways of working together with other companies, right, because before, we were always doing it more nationally, you know, like, you know, the NASA would work with all the companies that are within USA. International Space Station, we went outside of that, you know, we partnered with Russia partners in Italy, we partnered with Europe, you know, we did partner with Japan. So it was very good to learn about other countries, and how we can work together on a cause of doing anything in the space arena. So I do believe that it opened the door.

And the very fact that now we’re doing this mission, and a majority of the products of all this Artemis Mission is going to be commercial companies participating in it, right, and then they’re going to be competing against each other to get the bid. So there is going to be a lot more companies involved, not just, you know, like major aerospace company; it’s going to be like a lot more involvement from the entire earth. So that is another positive aspect of it.

Camille Morhardt  26:08

I’m just curious, what is your impression, opinion, or knowledge of what we traditionally call UFOs? I know they’ve been rebranded, but…

Shehnaz Soni  26:18

Yeah, so I do believe in intelligence existing in a different form; I actually see it, but more from my third eye. But you can feel it, it’s very interesting because, whatever you want to interact with, you have to have an interest in it, because it’s not going to interact with you, if you don’t interact with it. That is part of the interconnectedness is that you get to decide what energy and frequency and vibration you interact with. And basically, because you get to decide that, a lot of time, you know, you stay in the self-fulfilling prophecy loop, and you never exit the pattern, and you never really see anything else. I actually am someone who always exits the pattern because I get bored. Like, I have to do something. So it opens the door for me, right? And that’s how I have been expanding my consciousness and then the more I do that, the more I’m like, “Why are we, like, stuck in this messed up situation? Right?” So I want to help because I feel like we all can play in this big giant playground.

Camille Morhardt  27:12

That’s getting bigger and bigger, I guess, the further away from Earth we go.

Shehnaz Soni  27:16

Oh, exactly. And I think that that’s exactly the whole thing is because it’s just going to open the door for us to know how capable we are. Because we have been keeping ourselves a little bit enslaved and in cage because of our thinking.

Camille Morhardt  27:27

Thank you very much Shehnaz Soni, aerospace engineer from NASA, author of The Quantum Being and just superb and amazing human who produces light wherever she goes. Thank you so much for being on the podcast.

Shehnaz Soni  27:42

Thank you for this opportunity.

The views and opinions expressed are those of the guests and author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Intel Corporation.

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