The 18-year-old founder of GirlBoss New Zealand was chosen by space agency NASA to ride on-board their 747 jumbo jet aircraft during a special overnight mission.
In one 10 hour flight, Alexia Hilbertidou travelled at -70C and zero per cent humidity while measuring stardust and taking in the breath-taking displays of the atmosphere, such as the the Aurora Australis.
The flight left from the US Antarctic terminal the night of Friday 14 July and travelled at 45,000 ft towards Antarctica over the Southern Ocean. At maximum altitude, the rear of the airplane opens to allow for scientific observations.
On the trip NASA organised opportunities for guests to talk to scientists at the various workstations including the Mission Director, science flight planner, telescope operator, science staff and flight crew.
As the youngest person ever to be selected, she attended as a guest of NASA's SOFIA Southern Deployment in which crew seek out new stars and planets. NASA's SOFIA is the world's largest flying observatory based out of California and the Boeing 747SP jetliner is modified to carry one of the most powerful telescopes in the world with a 100-inch diameter. The data provided by SOFIA 'cannot be obtained by any other astronomical facility on the ground or in space'.
The 'VIP Mission' is specifically designed for scientific communicators. Past passengers on similar VIP missions have included Dr Michelle Dickinson and Star Trek's Nichelle Nichols.
As the founder of GirlBoss New Zealand, Hilbertidou was selected by the United States Ambassador-Designate Scott Brown in part because of the advocacy work she does in the scientific sphere.