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Apollo 13 astronaut awards scholarship

Published: Monday, October 1, 2012

Updated: Monday, October 1, 2012 01:10

Apollo and Gemini astronaut Captain James Lovell presented the $10,000 Astronaut Scholarship to senior aerospace engineering major Emily Boster during a ceremony Friday at Rudder Auditorium.

“Emily has demonstrated quality leadership in aerospace engineering at Texas A&M University,” Lovell said. “She embodies the top characteristics of an Astronaut Scholar by being intelligent, perseverant and driven to lead on the path toward the advancement of scientific knowledge and technology.”

Boster has a 4.0 GPA and expects to graduate in the fall of 2013. She is part of Texas A&M’s Astronomical Instrumentation Lab and has worked on the VIRUS instrument, which was built to help astronomers better understand dark energy. She has also worked on components for the Giant Magellan Telescope, which, once erected, will be the world’s largest optical telescope. Boster’s current project is working on a flight machine that lifts heavy payloads for civilians.

“I have a year and a half left [at A&M] to see all the work coming to fruition,” Boster said. “To see an instrument come from a computer model to seeing hundreds of parts that will build an instrument that studies dark matter is exciting.”

The aerospace industry does not have many female workers currently involved, and Boster hopes that she can inspire many other women to choose and pursue careers in the industry.

“My hope is to just do the best job I can do as a woman and be an inspiration to younger women,” Boster said. “If they think, ‘Oh, I’m a girl, I cannot do engineering,’ I want to tell them that yes you can. We’re fully capable of doing anything we want to do.”

Captain Lovell expressed the need for more students like Boster to be inspired and pursue careers in the aerospace industry. Lovell said the industry needs to find a new direction in order to keep the U.S. as the front-runner in space exploration.

“From my personal view we have to have NASA at a mission-oriented budget,” Lovell said. “I am disappointed … [the] direction that NASA started going in starting in 2008 was the wrong way.”

Lovell also mentioned that it is necessary to return to having space missions because as humans our curiosity wants to continue exploring the unknown. He believes that certain missions can be used as small stepping-stones to the infinite possibilities of what we may explore in the great frontier.

“Once we get comfortable going to the moon again, it will allow our curiosity to truly expand to other worlds, such as Mars, then other galaxies,” Lovell said.

Lovell presented a video concerning the Astronaut Scholarship Fund, which was created in 1984 by the six surviving members of the Mercury program. The foundation includes astronauts from Gemini, Apollo, Skylab, Space Shuttle and Space Station programs. The ASF provides 28 $10,000 scholarships and have awarded nearly $3.5 million to deserving students nationwide.

Lovell also presented a video of the famous voyage of Apollo 13. Now known as “the successful failure,” Lovell said the work of so many engineers made it possible for his crew to make it safely back to Earth.

Texas A&M President R. Bowen Loftin concluded the ceremony congratulating Boster and thanking Lovell for his presence and presentation.

“We are extremely proud of Texas A&M’s long and mutually productive relationship with NASA, particularly with our special ties to the astronaut program,” he said.


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