Interns from NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center in California launched a rocket, toured spaceflight facilities and gained inspiration from an astronaut candidate at a NASA-wide intern networking event July 14 and 15 at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
The Pathways Agency Cross-Center Connections — or PAXC — intern-led organization coordinated the event, which featured 15 Armstrong students. The students were interns from NASA’s Office of Education and co-op participants from the NASA Pathways program. Cross-center events play a central role in PAXC, which aims to encourage communication and knowledge-sharing among interns across NASA’s locations.
The event featured a model rocket competition hosted on-site at Johnson. Armstrong interns built and launched a rocket, named “Houston’s Problem,” to a peak altitude of 1,467 feet and a top velocity of 299 miles per hour. For added flare, “Houston’s Problem” used forward-swept fins to resemble the X-29 experimental aircraft flown at Armstrong (then named Dryden) in the 1980s.
Armstrong intern Zachary Houghton — who helped build “Houston’s Problem” — said the competition was tough and rewarding.
“It was a unique challenge, as we had to design, plan and execute our plans in a short period of time,” Houghton said.
Houghton, who was named Armstrong’s rocket team MVP, said the competition’s greatest challenge was leveraging students’ diverse strengths and knowledge toward a common goal.
“The opportunity PAXC provided us helped me grow into a young professional, and it taught me skills I will carry with me as I transition into my career,” Houghton said.
In addition to participating in the competition, Armstrong interns toured Johnson facilities, including the International Space Station Mission Control Center, Apollo Mission Control Center, Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory and Space Vehicle Mockup Facility.
Armstrong interns also toured Ellington Field, a nearby airbase operated by the United States Air Force that hosts Johnson’s aircraft flight operations. While learning about NASA’s fleet of T-38 aircraft at the field, the interns had a surprise visit from NASA astronaut candidate Bob Hines.
Armstrong intern Heather Yoost said meeting Hines and hearing firsthand about his accomplishments inspired her to continue pursuing an engineering career.
“It was awesome seeing Bob Hines while touring Ellington field,” Yoost said. “I spoke with him for a minute from the top of a T-38 as he headed to a flight.”
Armstrong interns attended other PAXC activities during the event, including a group dinner, a visit to a Saturn V rocket and a beach retreat in Galveston.
The event required extensive planning from PAXC members at every NASA center, including logistics coordination, model rocket development and video teleconferences among PAXC chapters.
Armstrong intern Annalise Giuliani said meeting interns from across NASA and learning about their work helped her better understand the agency’s overall mission.
“The event provided me with insight on another NASA center, and it gave me the opportunity to network with other interns from throughout the agency,” Giuliani said. “I learned more about how NASA centers work together to achieve common goals.”
To learn more about internship opportunities at Armstrong and across NASA, visit https://intern.nasa.gov/.
Student Coordinator Assistant Intern
NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center
The official logo for the NASA Pathways Agency Cross-Center Connections — or PAXC — intern-led organization. The logo was designed by NASA Armstrong intern Loren Newton. Image Credit: NASA/Loren Newton
NASA Armstrong intern Zachary Houghton prepares to launch “Houston’s Problem,” a model rocket built by Armstrong interns for an agencywide intern rocket competition at NASA's Johnson Space Center. Image Credit: NASA/Kylie Vandenson
NASA Armstrong intern Annalise Giuliani poses with a NASA T-38 Talon trainer aircraft during an intern tour of Ellington Field in Houston. Image Credit: NASA/Kylie Vandenson