As home to one of only five space science programs in the entire country, Morehead State University draws a variety of students with astronomical career aspirations. Many Eagles enter MSU’s Space Science Center to gain knowledge from world-renowned professors while acquiring both the skills and experience to potentially work for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
This past year, instead of MSU Space Science students going off to NASA, the Space Science Center got a visit from NASA – in addition to several other esteemed Kentuckians.
Robert M. Lightfoot Jr., acting administrator of NASA, visited MSU in September 2017 to learn more about the growing aerospace industry in Morehead and across Eastern Kentucky.
“It’s pretty exciting to know in two years, a satellite built here is going to be circling the moon and bringing back data. Not only that, the data is going to come back through here in the same dish that’s sitting up there,” Lightfoot said. “That’s the full lifecycle. That’s pretty impressive. MSU can be very proud of that.”
Lightfoot was joined by U.S. Rep. Harold “Hal” Rogers (KY-05) and Kentucky Lt. Gov. Janean Hampton to tour the Space Science Center along with MSU President Dr. Jay Morgan, MSU Space Science Center Executive Director Dr. Benjamin Malphrus, Advanced Exploration Systems Program Director Andres Martinez and others. Lightfoot, Rogers, Hampton and Morgan also spoke with students, local leaders and the general public during an event at the Morehead Conference Center.
“I feel that our Space Science program is a blue-chip program,” Morgan said. “With the group we have had on campus today, it just shows what the Space Science Center and its programs mean to MSU. I couldn’t be any prouder.”
The Space Science Center has gained recognition in aviation, aerospace and space science thanks in part to research in nanosatellite technologies. MSU has been involved in the launch of five NASA-funded satellites: CXBN, CXBN-2, Lunar ICEcube, Ky-Sat 2 and the DM-7 Flight Demonstration.
Lt. Gov. Hampton agrees that the program is a huge deal for the Commonwealth.
“Morehead State University is at the forefront of the aerospace and aviation research and development in Kentucky,” Hampton said. “This is absolutely going to be beneficial to the state of Kentucky.”
For Congressman Rogers, his visit led him to recall how the MSU Space Science program went from an ambitious idea to a very real and promising reality that could benefit Kentucky for generations to come.
“I can’t believe it has come this far this quick,” he said. “When (former MSU president) Ron Eaglin first came to see me and told me about his plan, I wouldn’t have envisioned this would happen so fast. You have to credit the students, staff and leadership of Morehead State. For students who desire an exciting career in space, this is the place to be … in Eastern Kentucky at Morehead State University.”