Florida Tech’s Astrobiological Research and Education Society (ARES) virtually welcomed special guest lecturer Trent Kingery, NASA research pilot and chief aviation safety officer at Johnson Space Center, at its general meeting Oct. 23.
Kingery, who is a retired Marine Corps major of 24 years and has over 4,300 flight hours in high-performance jet and corporate-type aircrafts, gave students a behind-the-scenes look at what goes on at NASA, especially when it comes to astronaut training.
“Most people associate NASA with space, not necessarily the air, so [Kingery] provided a lot of insight on the types of aircraft NASA uses and how important these aircraft are for science research, returning astronauts home and training astronaut candidates,” said Ruth Nichols, an astrobiology and applied mathematics senior, 2023 Astronaut Scholar and ARES Future Astronaut Corps (AFAC) director.
Recently, Kingery flew NASA astronaut Francisco Rubio back from his record-breaking 371 days in space, when he returned to Earth in September 2023. He also trained many other astronauts, including Jessica Watkins, SpaceX Crew-4 mission specialist and Artemis crew member, to fly a T-38 Talon.
“It is very valuable to have a speaker like this to introduce students to potential career paths and passions and to guide them along in those paths,” Nichols said. “In this case, students in ARES learned about NASA research projects and gained advice and insight on how to become astronauts.”