Purdue program a major contributor to NASA successes
From Indianapolis – David Wolf has certainly made his parents proud. Not only does this Hoosier native have a degree in electrical engineering from Purdue University and a medical degree from Indiana University, he also served as Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Air Force Guard as a senior flight surgeon for 17 years. In addition, he is one of NASA’s expert extravehicular activity (spacewalk) astronauts, logging 163 days in space over five missions to date.
Wolf’s contributions to NASA have earned him a NASA Exceptional Engineering Achievement Medal and the NASA Inventor of the Year Award, and he is just one of more than 20 Hoosier astronauts that have flown in space. In fact, Purdue University holds the distinction of being the alma mater of both the first man to set foot on the moon, Neil Armstrong, and the last man to leave the moon, Eugene Cernan.
With so much Indianapolis history and Hoosier heritage floating around in space, the Indiana State Fair, in partnership with the Indiana Space Grant Consortium, is celebrating the state’s space mission contributions with “Indiana Space Travels,” an elaborate, interactive exhibit located in the Grand Hall all 17 days of the fair.
The exhibit is a favorite among Indianapolis kids and adults alike. It traces the stories of significant aeronautic Hoosiers and events dating back to 1859 with the nation’s first airmail delivery, originating by hot air balloon in Lafayette, Indiana. The exhibit also features an interactive Mars rover that can be operated by remote control (just like the astronauts do it); a space capsule simulator visitors can sit inside; a replica Hubble Telescope; a modular mission control board; and artifacts from various space missions, balloon launches and rockets. There’s even a NASA photo kiosk where fairgoers can photograph themselves in space.
On Aug. 7, visitors will have the opportunity to meet NASA astronaut and Hoosier native Mark Brown. A 1969 Valparaiso High School alumnus, Brown graduated from Purdue University in 1973 with a degree in aeronautical and astronautical engineering. After receiving his Masters degree from the Air Force Institute of Technology, he worked at the Johnson Space Center before being selected as a NASA astronaut in 1984. He has participated in two space flights, totaling more than 10 days in space.
The Indiana Space Travels exhibit hopes to have more astronauts on hand throughout the fair, and will also feature information on scholarship, fellowship and internship opportunities offered by the Indiana Space Grant Consortium and the other 20-plus affiliates of the consortium, including 11 colleges and universities throughout the state of Indiana.
About the Indiana Space Grant Consortium
The Indiana Space Grant Consortium is one of 52 consortia that are part of the National Space Grant Foundation. The consortium’s purpose is to carry out education, research and public outreach activities in science, mathematics, engineering and technology while endeavoring to increase the financial and government support to the Space Grant Consortia. Each of the 52 consortia are comprised of colleges, universities, businesses and other private and public sector institutions, all working to further aerospace education and career training.
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