ADA — Two East Central University students, junior Stacy Kipps, Stratford, and senior Chad Meadows, Altus, participated in the 2006 Family Day in November at NASA's John F. Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

They were included in the tour of the spaceport because of Oklahoma's successful NASA Space Grant program, which includes the NASA National Space Grant and College Fellowship Program at ECU. Both are recipients of NASA scholarships.

It was the first Family Day since 2000 and allowed space program workers to bring their families, friends and guests for the tour.

The first stop was the Orbiter Processing Facility where the Space Shuttle Endeavour was being prepared for its next mission. Numerous exhibits and information stations were set up around the orbiter. The students also were allowed inside the Vehicle Assembly Building to witness how the orbiter is attached to the solid rocket boosters and external fuel tank. Several exhibits and NASA personnel were available to the students.

At the Launch Control Center the students participated in a launch experience and viewed a previously taped launch with simulated sound and countdown. They visited the two firing rooms in the center, a historical site room used in the Apollo program and the current firing room where the space shuttles are launched.

"The launch pad tour was a highlight of the day," said Dr. Mark Micozzi, assistant professor of cartography and the program's institutional representative for ECU. "The students were able to visit both launch pads for the space shuttles and see Space Shuttle Discovery on one of the pads. The vehicle used to transport the orbiters to the launch pad, a shuttle crawler, was also on site to visit."

The students also toured the Apollo/Saturn V building to see one of NASA's Saturn V rockets and have a rare visit with an astronaut. Mockup components of the space station were viewed in the Engineering Development Building while International Space Station (ISS) components were being assembled on site.

"The students learned that the Kennedy Space Center is responsible for preparing and launching missions into orbit around the Earth and beyond," Micozzi said, "as well as for the checkout, launch and landing of the space shuttles and its payloads."

Elements of the ISS undergo final flight preparations there before being launched aboard the space shuttles for in-orbit assembly, he added.

To learn more about the ECU Space Grant Program, contact Dr. Mark Micozzi in the Department of Cartography and Geography at 580.310.5398 or at

More information about NASA's National Space Grant and College Fellowship Program is available at

Information about the Oklahoma Space Grant Program is available at

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