Georgia Tech Hosts Space Shuttle Symposium

The Georgia Institute of Technology and NASA will review the achievements of the agency's Space Shuttle Program and look ahead to the future of space exploration during a symposium June 6-8.

Astronaut Eric Boe
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Georgia Tech alumnus and Astronaut Eric A. Boe spoke at the Georgia Tech Student Center Theater in 2009. He is pictured with Gary May (left), chair of the School of Electrical & Computer Engineering and incoming dean of the College of Engineering, and Don Giddens (right), dean of the College of Engineering, who is retiring in June.

Fourteen Georgia Tech graduates are NASA astronauts, including Boe, who piloted the final flight of Discovery in May, and Sandra Magnus, who will be a mission specialist on Atlantis’ final flight later this month. 

Georgia Tech will host "The Space Shuttle: An Engineering Milestone," at the university's Global Learning Center at 84 5th Street N.W. The event is open to media.

The symposium will bring together an international group of scientists, technologists, engineers, mission designers, policymakers and students to discuss the shuttle era's significant contributions and exchange ideas about the future of space transportation.

“The space shuttle program is an engineering accomplishment no other country has been able to duplicate,” said Robert Loewy, conference chair and Georgia Tech professor of aerospace engineering. “The symposium is intended to honor those who contributed to the design, construction, operation and scientific data-taking that the three decades of the shuttle's operation have made possible.”

Georgia Tech President G. P. “Bud” Peterson will give a welcome and NASA Administrator Gen. Charles Bolden will open the symposium on Tuesday, June 7. Other speakers include Doug White, deputy associate program manager for the orbiter element; Steve Hawley and Shannon Lucid, NASA astronauts; Bill Hill, assistant associate administrator for the Space Shuttle Program; and Michael Gazarik, NASA deputy chief technologist.

"The Space Shuttle Program has accomplished many amazing things for the entire world," Bolden said. "Not least of which is the construction of the International Space Station, which will anchor our human spaceflight activities for the coming decade and provide unparalleled opportunities for critical research and technology demonstrations that will help us reach destinations farther in the solar system."

Speakers will highlight some of the many scientific discoveries about Earth, the solar system and universe enabled by the space shuttle program and how it has advanced technology and affected peoples’ lives across the globe.

The shuttle program has spanned three decades of operation, and its last flight will be the STS-135 mission targeted for a July 8 launch. The five orbiters, Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour, have flown more than 130 times, carrying more than 360 people into space and traveling more than half a billion miles. Designed to return to Earth and land like a giant glider, the shuttle was the world's first reusable space vehicle.

Georgia Tech has a long history of contributing to NASA research and programs. In 1917, the U.S. Army created a school of military aeronautics – one of eight in the nation – at Georgia Tech, and in 1930, the Guggenheim Foundation contributed a grant to establish it as one of the nation's first schools of aeronautics in the U.S.

Today, Georgia Tech is home to some of the nation's most accomplished faculty and laboratories for the study and advancement of rocket propulsion. Fourteen Georgia Tech graduates are NASA astronauts, including Eric Boe, who piloted the final flight of Discovery in May, and Sandra Magnus, who will be a mission specialist on Atlantis’ final flight later this month.

The conference is sponsored by Georgia Tech’s Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering, with the co-sponsorship of NASA, the Georgia Space Grant Consortium, the Boeing Company and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. Registration is required for the general public to attend. 

NASA Media Contacts:

David S. Weaver

Headquarters, Washington                                                


Angela Storey

Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.