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Tennessee State and other HBCUs are sending mementos into space

The items will be onboard Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner on Friday as it embarks on its second mission to orbit for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
Credit: Tennessee State University

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Mementos from Tennessee State University and 13 other historically Black colleges and universities will be launched into orbit aboard Boeing's CST-100 Starliner this week. 

The launch is scheduled for 1:53 p.m. CDT Friday. 

The other schools are Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College and Spelman College, part of the Atlanta University Center Consortium; Alabama A&M University; Florida A&M University; Howard University in Washington, D.C.; Morgan State University in Maryland; North Carolina A&T; Prairie View A&M University in Texas; Southern University and A&M College in Louisiana; South Carolina State University; and Tuskegee University in Alabama.

(TSU News Release) - Tennessee State University’s excellence is recognized globally, now its name is about to be out of this world – literally.

The legacy of TSU and 13 other historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) will be onboard Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner on Friday, July 30, as it embarks on its second mission to orbit for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

The launch is scheduled for 2:53 p.m. Eastern/1:53 p.m. Central. To view the launch, visit https://bit.ly/3kXM2zT.

Flags, small pennants and other items representing select HBCUs from throughout the U.S. will be part of the hundreds of pounds of cargo inside the unmanned spacecraft for Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2).

“Tennessee State University is proud to be among the 14 historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) that Boeing is recognizing on the second space flight of its CST-100 Starliner with flags, pennants, and other items,” said TSU President Glenda Glover. “We are proud of our partnership with Boeing, which has led to internships and other opportunities that have propelled many of our students to successful careers. This recognition shows Boeing’s commitment to equity and inclusion, and highlights, once again, the importance of HBCUs.” 

Said Boeing President and CEO David Calhoun, “closing representation gaps in our company and our industry is a priority for Boeing, and inspiring diverse students to pursue careers in aerospace is an important part of that effort. By representing HBCUs on our Starliner mission, we are demonstrating our commitment to working with these institutions to advance equity and inclusion and help ensure a bright future for their students.”

Dr. S. Keith Hargrove, dean of the College of Engineering at TSU, said the university is fortunate to have Boeing’s continued investment.

“Boeing continues to invest in the students and the academic programs in the College of Engineering,” he said. “Their recent contribution will identify high achieving students to receive scholarships as recognized Boeing Scholars.  In addition, funding will help support the student’s professional development in preparing for the workforce.  This includes attending the national NSBE Conference, BEYA Conference, and ongoing campus activities.  Faculty will also use funds to help with course and curriculum development in topics relevant to the aircraft industry.”

Mister TSU Mark Davis said he’s glad to see HBCUs, in general, continue to be in the spotlight.

“It’s awesome,” said Davis, a senior mass communications major from Cincinnati, Ohio. “Including TSU in this speaks a lot about not only our institution, but highlights the national recognition HBCUs are continuing to receive.”

The higher education mementos will be part of the approximately 760 pounds of cargo flying inside the Starliner’s crew module when it launches to the International Space Station for OFT-2. The end-to-end test is a critical developmental milestone on the company’s path toward flying crew missions for NASA.

Besides Tennessee State University, the represented universities with which Boeing also has a recruiting relationship, are Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College and Spelman College, part of the Atlanta University Center Consortium; Alabama A&M University; Florida A&M University; Howard University in Washington, D.C.; Morgan State University in Maryland; North Carolina A&T; Prairie View A&M University in Texas; Southern University and A&M College in Louisiana; South Carolina State University; and Tuskegee University in Alabama.

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