Tuskegee unites in new space vehicle’s development


TUSKEGEE, Ala. (July 24, 2014) — The legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen will soon have the opportunity to fly even higher. Today, the university signed an agreement giving Tuskegee students and faculty the chance to help develop a new space vehicle.

During a press conference at Luther Foster Hall, the university and Sierra Nevada Corporation’s (SNC) Space Systems announced that they have signed a Letter of Cooperation to initiate collaborative efforts related to SNC’s Dream Chaser® Orbital Transportation System. SNC’s flagship program, the Dream Chaser, is a next generation space transportation system. The company hopes that this spacecraft will be used to transport astronauts and cargo to and from low Earth orbit destinations, including the International Space Station. The company’s technology could be used for industrial and space tourism purposes.

Dr. Brian L. Johnson, 7th President of
Tuskegee University.

Mark N. Sirangelo, corporate vice president
of SNC's Space Systems.
An important part of the collaboration is to jointly promote aerospace engineering education, research, and development, scientific exploration and recruitment and training of a diverse workforce.

Honors Tuskegee’s past

Tuskegee president, Dr. Brian L. Johnson, said, “I have begun my time as president by asking all involved with the university to trust the Tuskegee tradition and trust the Tuskegee trajectory. This new relationship with SNC highlights the long celebrated history of Tuskegee in aerospace while also opening up future possibilities for our students to experience the trajectory of America’s new path to space.”

Mark N. Sirangelo, corporate vice president of SNC’s Space Systems, presented the university with a special "Red Tails" version of the Dream Chaser space vehicle model. The red and gold stickers on the model’s wingtips are a nod to the planes that the Tuskegee Airmen flew in World War II. While outlining the partnership with Tuskegee, Sirangelo referenced several events from the past including first lady Eleanor Roosevelt’s plane ride with famed Airman, Alfred "Chief" Anderson, and Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon. He used them as examples of acts that paved the way to a new destiny.

“We believe that respecting the past is the key to the future,” Sirangelo said.

Creates future job opportunities

SNC will support research projects for Tuskegee University faculty and students to advance the technical design of SNC’s Dream Chaser. These projects are expected to create internships and future job opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and non-STEM disciplines for Tuskegee University students. Dr. Legand Burge, dean of the College of Engineering, hailed the signing as a way to quickly engage Tuskegee’s current and prospective students.

“This is a great opportunity for SNC to capture [the students’] attention and get them in place,” Burge said of the collaboration. “Because we know SNC is going to need the talent.”

Dr. Javed Khan, head of the Aerospace Engineering Department, said that the agreement is a testament to Tuskegee and the College of Engineering being committed to excellence. The department has graduated the largest number of black aerospace engineers in the nation. He also said the collaboration will further strengthen the aerospace engineering program and it is always his department’s “endeavor to bring state-of-the art technology to our students.”

About Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Space Systems

Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Space Systems business area based in Louisville, Colorado, designs and manufactures advanced spacecraft, space vehicles, rocket motors and spacecraft subsystems and components for the U.S. Government, commercial customers as well as for the international market. SNC’s Space Systems has more than 25 years of space heritage and has participated in over 400 successful space missions through the delivery of over 4,000 systems, subsystems and components. During its history, SNC’s Space Systems has concluded over 70 programs for NASA and over 50 other clients. For more information about SNC’s Space Systems visit www.sncspace.com and follow us at Facebook.com/SNCSpaceSystems.

President Johnson and Mark Sirangelo, Corp. Vice President, sign Letter of Cooperation at Joint Press Conference.

(l-r): Dr. Legand Burge, dean of the College of Engineering; Dr. Brian L. Johnson, 7th President of Tuskegee University; Dr. Javed Khan, head of the Aerospace Engineering Department; and Mark N. Sirangelo, Corporate Vice President of SNC's Space Systems. 

© 2014 Tuskegee University

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