Following the same trajectory

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --

The pair sat at the coffee house table and a casual observer might quickly conclude they were lifelong friends. The reality is, though they met less than two years ago, their lives have been following nearly identical paths since that day.

And that’s perfectly fine with them.

“We came in at the exact same time,” they said simultaneously.

Second Lts. Ranell Cavitt and Maggie Jones, 3rd Space Experimentation Squadron, have been nearly inseparable since they arrived at Schriever Sept. 30, 2015.

“There was a big group of us that came on the same day,” Cavitt said. “We were all from ROTC, all 2nd lieutenants and we all got here at the same time.”

As the group finished inprocessing, Cavitt and Jones were assigned to 3 SES as orbital analysts. The assignment served as a foundation for their friendship.

“There was some strong bonding there,” Jones said.

Their shared experiences didn’t begin at Schriever. Though they grew up more than 300 miles apart; Cavitt in St. Louis, Missouri, and Jones in Madison, Wisconsin, both were encouraged to achieve whatever they wanted out of life.

Even as a child, Cavitt knew she wanted to be an engineer. Initially, her parents helped her on that path, supporting her endeavors. Joining a robotics club introduced her to both engineering concepts and processes, as well as others in the industry. Cavitt graduated from Missouri University of Science and Technology with an aerospace engineering degree.

Often asked why she wanted to become an engineer, her response is simple.

“No one ever told me I couldn’t, so I just did it,” she said.

Jones’ father, himself an engineer, would do simple science experiments with Jones and her brother in their garage. The experiments fueled a desire for science that led to earning a biology degree from the University of Wisconsin.

“I didn’t go the engineering route,” Jones laughed. “Still, it’s science and I was always interested in that, and a lot of that was encouraged by my dad.”

The similarities didn’t stop there. Both women joined the ROTC at their respective universities and knew early they wanted to serve, though for different reasons. Jones wanted to grow and improve the leadership she first learned as a karate instructor. Cavitt made the natural transition from aerospace engineer to space operations.

“I’m pretty satisfied with the choice (to serve),” Cavitt said.

Again, though their schools were hundreds of miles apart, they walked a similar path as both commissioned as 2nd lieutenants May 16, 2015. The pair even received the same additional duties.

The only real separation the two had after arriving at Schriever came due to conflicting training schedules. While both initially entered 3 SES as casual status, then orbital analysts for the Operationally Responsive Space-1 satellite, Jones needed to remain with the squadron while Cavitt attended Space Training at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. Once Cavitt returned, Jones left for training.

While Jones was at Vandenberg, Cavitt transferred to the Automated Navigation and Guidance Experiment in Local Space satellite. Jones trained under Cavitt when she returned from California, and now serves alongside her as ANGELS mission planner and trainer.

“It got a little staggered there, but we’re pretty much doing the same thing (again),” Cavitt said.

Not surprisingly, both women would ultimately like to work for NASA someday, but they agreed working with 3 SES has been beneficial in many ways.

“We’re experiencing a lot of different systems faster than everyone else,” Jones said. “We’re touching a lot of different areas and picking up a lot of different things.”

Though they know they’ll eventually travel separate paths, for now, Jones and Cavitt are excited about the possibility of remaining with 3 SES as long as they can. Being on the cutting edge of new satellite technology and experiencing all the space career has to offer, together.

To celebrate March as Women’s History Month, we’re highlighting some of the women making history at Schriever. If you know a woman doing great things, contact the Public Affairs office at 567-5040.