NASA Langley – TNCC Co-op Students Involved in Newest U.S. Space Craft

Published: November 9, 2009

Nearly 20 Thomas Nelson Community College (TNCC) students are officially part of United States aerospace history. A product of their work at NASA Langley Research Center soared into the stratosphere on October 28 when NASA’s newest craft – its Constellation Program’s Ares I-X test rocket – roared off Launch Complex 39B at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

With more than 12 times the thrust produced by a Boeing 747 jet aircraft, the Ares I-X lifted off for a six-minute flight test. The launch was the first from Kennedy’s pads of a vehicle other than the space shuttle since the Apollo Program’s Saturn rockets were retired, according to NASA officials. This project is among several initiatives that are part of NASA’s new vision for space exploration to replace U.S. space shuttles that have been in flight since the 1980s.

The upper portion of Ares I-X, the launch abort system and crew module, was developed and tested at NASA Langley with TNCC cooperative education students as members of the team. Under two NASA Langley-TNCC training programs that began in 2007, the students gained practical experience in research, flight operations and simulation, fabrication technology development, center operations and safety, mission and quality assurance.

Students from TNCC have been gaining valuable paid training alongside veteran NASA Langley innovators since the early 1970s.

The longstanding partnership with NASA Langley has also given the College opportunities for curriculum expansion in its Mathematics, Engineering and Technologies division through Dean Patricia Taylor’s close collaboration with SpaceTEC®, the National Science Foundation’s Center of Excellence for Aerospace Technical Education. The College is one of the program’s 12 partner community colleges nationwide.

SpaceTEC® and its industry partners offer programs that prepare aerospace technicians to become Certified Aerospace Technicians™ and TNCC is an authorized site for the exam, notes Taylor.

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