Press Release

NASA to Offer Glimpse of the Future with the Space Launch System at Tennessee Tech

By SpaceRef Editor
February 13, 2013
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NASA to Offer Glimpse of the Future with the Space Launch System at Tennessee Tech

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., is partnering with the Millard Oakley STEM Center at Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville to introduce area students and the community to the Space Launch System or SLS. The STEM in the Millard Oakley name stands for “science, technology, engineering and math.”

NASA’s Space Launch System is the nation’s next heavy-lift vehicle that will take astronauts farther than ever before, beyond Earth’s orbit to places like an asteroid and eventually to Mars. TTU is hosting a week of activities geared toward educating the public on SLS.

The highlight of the week will be the Oakley STEM Center’s FAB Friday, on Feb. 22, when a new interactive SLS exhibit will open to the public.

“We couldn’t be more pleased to partner with NASA on debuting the new Space Launch System exhibit,” said Gail Gentry, outreach coordinator at the Oakley STEM Center. “This FAB Friday program features hands-on, SLS-based learning stations including creating and launching your own rocket, learning how rocket engines work, using mock wind tunnels to test paper airplanes and more.”

FAB Friday will begin at 6 p.m. with activities for families and children. Teresa Bowman Vanhooser, TTU alumna and deputy director of the Marshall Center, will speak at 7:30 p.m. in the Oakley STEM Center Auditorium. She will provide an overview of how Marshall’s people and programs support NASA’s space exploration goals and talk about the importance of young people having a solid education in science, technology, engineering and math.

“We are really excited to collaborate with TTU for this first of its kind special event,” said Vanhooser. “TTU has an excellent engineering program, and we are very fortunate to have at least a dozen alumni working on the SLS program. Our hope is that this community’s young people are inspired by what they hear this week and realize the enormous potential they have to be our nation’s next generation of scientists, engineers and astronauts.”

In addition to FAB Friday, other learning activities are planned throughout the week, including panel discussions, live chats and broadcast lectures to TTU students, regional middle and high schools and TTU alumni and friends. Marshall engineers will lead a panel discussion for TTU students and the campus community at 3 p.m. Friday, Feb. 22, in the Oakley STEM Center Auditorium.

The Oakley STEM Center also will be open to the public from 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 24, to give the public a chance to experience the SLS exhibit, presentations in the Oakley STEM Center’s Virtual Theater and a student art exhibit. Regional middle and high school students have submitted pieces with the theme “SLS: Where Will It Take You?” Their artwork will be on display at the Oakley STEM Center beginning Monday, Feb. 18.

A tweet chat with the same theme will take place from 11 a.m. to noon Tuesday, Feb. 19. TTU alumni who work at Marshall will tweet with TTU students about the SLS program and careers in science, technology, engineering and math. To participate in the chat, followers can use the hash tag #SLSInspires or the @NASA_SLS Twitter handle.

NASA actively supports and inspires interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics by offering programs, resources and activities to schools and universities. The Oakley STEM Center houses a NASA Educator Resource Center, which provides teaching materials and resources to regional teachers.

For more information about the SLS exhibit and a listing of all the events, visit or call (931) 372-6573.

Admission to FAB Friday is free, but reservations are required. To register, visit

The Oakley STEM Center is in Ray Morris Hall on the campus of Tennessee Tech at 155 W. 7th Street, the corner of 7th and Stadium Drive in Cookeville.

For more information on SLS, visit:

SpaceRef staff editor.