Bama grad’s next stop? Space

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UA alumnus Bob Hines, second from right is part of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4, which also includes, from left Jessica Watkins; Kjell Lindgren; European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti. Photo courtesy of NASA.

If everything goes according to plan, a University of Alabama graduate is heading to space this weekend.

NASA Astronaut and 2010 UA grad Bob Hines will pilot a SpaceX mission to the International Space Station, scheduled to launch from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on April 23.

UA Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics Assistant Professor Rohan Sood will be watching the launch firsthand, as he was invited to the launch by NASA.

Sood works with students on proposing and exploring missions, and even designing trajectories to visit the moon, Mars and other far-off locales.

“We have excellent students that even while they are working here, they are already contributing to space exploration, Sood said. “We are working with Johnson Space Center (in Houston) and working on solar cruiser mission and Mars sample return, so the opportunities are excellent, and we have amazing students here at the University of Alabama.”

Sood instructs a dozen students in the program, from doctoral to undergrad, and his goal is introducing them to space exploration and the tools they’ll need to design real-life missions.

Many students who have graduated from the program are now working for the Air Force, Space Force, Johnson Space Center and other aerospace careers.

“This is an excellent example that we are providing our students the best education we can,” Sood said. “We have astronauts, we have mission designers, and this tells students that we have a curriculum that can provide students the opportunity to be successful in life.”

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