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Highlights of Astronaut Scholar achievements, advancements, accomplishments, break-throughs and successes.

Astronaut Scholar Christina Hammock Koch

NASA Astronaut and 2000-2001 Astronaut Scholar, Christina Hammock Koch, has been announced as a part of the mission crew for Expedition 59/60, set to launch in April 2019, heading to the International Space Station.

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Astronaut Scholar Joey Wilson

Astronaut Scholar Joey Wilson is so excited to announce that he’ll be moving to the United Kingdom and attending the University of Cambridge, a member of St. John's College and as a Cambridge International Scholar! There, he'll be pursuing a PhD in Oncology. Specifically, he'll be researching nanoparticles for lung cancer treatment alongside Dr. Daniel Munoz-Espin! He is so excited to start working to improve cancer treatments and hopefully ultimately finding a cure for cancer.

Astronaut Scholar Kendal Ezell

Astronaut Scholar Kendal Ezell recently graduated Summa Cum Laude from Texas A&M University with a bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering. She also received designations as an Honors Fellow and University Research Scholar for her work with biomaterials to treat brain aneurysms. This upcoming academic year, Kendal will join the Medical Scientist Training Program at Northwestern University pursuing a medical degree, as well as a PhD, in Biomedical Engineering. Kendal has been awarded the Heller and Ryan Fellowships for this next phase of training.

Astronaut Scholar Emily Boster

Astronaut Scholar Emily Boster had the opportunity to work on the monumental launch of the Mars Lander, InSight. "As I stood in the darkness, listening to the launch countdown, surrounded by JPL and Lockheed Martin Engineers, I couldn’t help but think back to my own history. Five years earlier, I was brought onto the program as a Mechanical Design Intern. InSight was nothing more than CAD models, paperwork, requirements, and specs. It was my job to turn those models into engineering drawings and figure out how to get them built. We were trying to reuse designs from the Phoenix lander, but some things had to change due to payload interfaces, mass increases, and aerodynamic load increases, among other things. I was hired on full-time to continue my work, eventually taking on the role of Payload Integration Engineer. Over the next couple years, we took the brackets, hardware, composite layups, and electronics boxes and formed them into a fully autonomous, robotic lander that we could talk back and forth with, initiate complex deployments of solar arrays, legs, robotic arm maneuvers, imaging, and payload operation to study the Martian interior. There were long hours in the lab, weekends and nights spent testing our lander. There was disappointment too, when a problem with the primary instrument prevented us from meeting our first launch date. Our partners doubled their efforts to redesign the faulty piece of the instrument and delivered a functional seismometer on schedule for our next launch opportunity. My roles on InSight had tapered off after 2016, yet I continued to support the program through media outreach, STEM events, and periodic surge support for Assembly, Test, and Launch Operations (ATLO). As we heard those final words, “Three, two, one, zero and liftoff of the ATLAS V”, I held my breath waiting to see a light through the thick fog of the central California coast. The ground started to tremble, and a roar approached and enveloped us, and the entire sky began to glow as the fog brightened above us. Just seconds later, the light was gone, and the sky was black as night. Cheers and yells erupted from the crowd and I couldn’t help but smile as I thought in my head, “Goodbye InSight and safe travels on your way to Mars”."

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Astronaut Scholar Michael Markesbery

Astronaut Scholar Michael Markesbery (pictured left) and his business partner, Rithvik Venna, have been named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list of notable entrepreneurs in the category of Retail and E-Commerce! As co-founders of the company OROS, Markesbery and Venna have patented SolarCore technology that aims to disrupt the outdoor apparel market and make older technologies obsolete. SolarCore® utilizes the same insulation technology used by NASA in spacesuits to protect in the universe’s harshest environments, called aerogel. This game changing technology helps to make OROS outwear thinner, warmer and more flexible than anything on the current market. You can read more about OROS innovative technology on their website: Congratulations again to Michael and Rithvik for being named Forbes 30 under 30!

2018-2019 Astronaut Scholar Class


    The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation (ASF) is proud to welcome the 2018-2019 Astronaut Scholar Class. This year ASF has awarded 50 scholarships to students from 36 different universities across the nation. Astronaut Scholarships are awarded to students in their junior and senior year of college studying science, technology, engineering, or mathematics with the intent to pursue research or advance their field upon completion of their final degree. Astronaut Scholars are among the best and brightest minds in STEM who show initiative, creativity, and excellence in their chosen field.

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