UTEP Student Engineer Earns Coveted Spot at NASA Rocket Launch
December 11, 2014
University of Texas at El Paso student Matthew Garcia has earned one of 50 coveted press credentials to attend a rocket launch Dec. 19 at the Kennedy Space Center. More than 5,000 people applied for a chance to witness the event.
Garcia, who conducts undergraduate research in UTEP's Center for the Advancement of Space Safety and Mission Assurance (CASSMAR), registered for the spot through NASA Social. The program encourages behind-the-scenes, in-person experiences at the space agency.
Attendees will have the opportunity to speak with scientists and engineers who work at the government agency and disseminate what they learn on social media. The event will culminate with an up-close viewing of the launch of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket no earlier than 1:20 p.m. ET on Friday, Dec. 19. Garcia will be snapping pictures and live tweeting the event from the Twitter account @CASSMAR_at_UTEP.
"I'm very pleased Matthew Garcia was accepted to participate in this launch event," said Darren Cone, executive director of CASSMAR. "I'm confident Mr. Garcia will represent all facets of the UTEP aerospace research community with a keen sense of technical curiosity, dedication, and excitement — all attributes of a proud UTEP engineering student!"
Falcon 9's goal is to propel the Dragon spacecraft out of Earth's atmosphere so that it can reach the International Space Station as part of a resupply mission.
Garcia is excited to meet NASA engineers, and to share news of the launch on social media.
"This opportunity will give the Southwest region someone to listen to and to follow to see what's going on in space news," said Garcia, who will earn a bachelor's in Metallurgical and Materials Engineering on Saturday, Dec. 13. "[Our Twitter account is] also a way for others to see what UTEP is doing in terms of space research."
Cone shares Garcia's enthusiasm and is glad to see NASA encouraging students to learn more about spaceflight.
"This serves as further evidence that NASA, and the commercial spaceflight organizations like SpaceX, recognize the importance of engaging students early in their career development path," Cone said. "By giving student researchers a behind-the-scenes view of the amazingly complex orchestration that is required to launch payloads and humans into space, they provide a source of inspiration that cannot be found anywhere else."