Engineers inspire students with science behind space careers

HARLINGEN — I need a vacation.

Where do I want to go? New York City? Mongolia? Italy?

None of it appeals to me. Someone gets so frustrated with my indecision he waves his fist and says, “I’m about ready to send you into orbit.”

Eureka. That’s it. I want to go into orbit.

Space tourism companies like AgileAero are working to make suborbital space flight and then orbital flight possible for people looking for a new kind of trip. Dan DeLong, chief engineer for Agile Aero, spoke yesterday to students about the science behind the excitement at the inaugural Rio Grande Valley Space Summit at TexasStateTechnicalCollege.

“The engines in those aircraft are always in the rear,” said DeLong, one of the founders of Agile Aero, which is focused on space tourism. He was gesturing toward a picture of a plane on the screen, thick fire rushing from the tail.

“They’re piston engines that turn a propeller,” he said. “We took that engine off and we replaced it with a rocket propulsion engine.”

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