One of the awesome perks of a NASA internship is the tours that you get of cool aerospace locations. During my 6.5 month internship at the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center I got to see a variety of aerospace research and development organizations, which have further inspired me to be an aerospace engineer.
The first tours that we got were of the NASA Dryden facilities. We toured several hangers and got to see several interesting aircraft as well as the Crew Exploration Vehicle for the Constellation/Orion project that will take us to the moon.
The next big tour that we took was taking a drive up to China Lake, which is another dry lake bed, like the one at Edwards AFB that the shuttle lands on, where NAVAIR tests their aircraft and some weapon systems. Unfortunately, due to the classified nature of the facilities, I was not able to take any pictures.
We also got to see the communications satellites and mission control rooms at the Goldstone Deep Space Network, where they monitor communications to distant satellites and probes currently exploring different regions of the galaxy.
Later we got to see the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. It was funny because before we went, I pictured the scientist and engineers of JPL to look like they did in the 1960s with dress pants and button down shirts and short haircuts. When I went there, I found that my picture of the JPL researcher was not at all accurate. Some of them were even wearing t-shirts, shorts, and flip-flops. I also didn’t expect JPL to be as beautiful as it was, with the green hills around it and the old trees around the campus. It had a very academic atmosphere, which makes sense because it is also part of Cal Tech. The campus was very in touch with nature though. There were deer just walking between the buildings, which were really exciting for many of the touring students to see. I was also surprised at how large the Mars landers Spirit and Opportunity are, when I saw their sister at the center.