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TU Student Alex Isaak Talks NASA Internship and Deep Space Program

My name is Alex Isaak, and I’m currently a Communications Major at the University of Tulsa. I had the opportunity to intern at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas over the Summer. This was for the Orion Program, NASA’s mission to Deep Space, which is considered anything outside the low-earth orbit where the International Space Station is currently. To put it in perspective, the distance from the station to earth is about the same distance from New York to Washington, DC. Even the moon is considered to be Deep Space.

How Did You Hear About The Internship?

I heard about the internship through Career Services. They informed me that NASA was currently looking for communication majors.

What Did You Do?

I worked in the strategic communications department, which dealt with social media, internal and external operations for NASA. One of the main priorities was communicating with the different centers around the country, ensuring that everyone was on the same page.

About Johnson Space Center

Along with my daily tasks, I got a chance to see inside a mockup of the Orion Crew Module and what the inside will look like for astronauts. This is what they are using for current missions, but by 2030 they are hoping to send humans safely to Mars and bring them back. This will require a much bigger shuttle, as the mission can take anywhere from six to nine months at the shortest and up to two years at the longest.

Houston is also the home of the astronaut training facility. The first week of my internship NASA announced the new astronaut class and I got a good idea of what was required to be one. The pool was out of 18,000 + candidates, and they choose only 12. A lot of these people have advanced degrees in math, science or engineering, and most had a military or flight background.

One of the coolest things I got to see was the zero-gravity simulation. They put the astronauts in these big, white pressure suits and submerge them underwater in a 40-foot pool with a replica of the International Space Station. This gives them a chance to feel what it will be like operating in zero gravity and maneuvering around the station. It’s very surreal and it’s actually really beautiful to witness. I wish I could go in, but you have to be certified because it’s so deep.

Closing Thoughts

When I got the email from Career Services I was a bit surprised, wondering what NASA could want with a communication major, but as it turns out, there’s a lot of opportunities for all different majors including business, math, and engineering. You never know what doors might open or what organizations like NASA are looking for in a candidate. When you keep an open mind, you’ll come across a lot of different opportunities with places you never thought about or even considered.