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Blue Origin launch opens door for talent near and far, NMSU aerospace engineers say

KFOX El Paso logo KFOX El Paso 7/20/2021 Jennifer Cuevas
Jeff Bezos in a blue shirt © Provided by KFOX El Paso

The launch of Jeff Bezos’ first Blue Origin space flight has not only shined the spotlight on Van Horn, it is also opening doors for aspiring aerospace engineers in the Borderland.

Recent New Mexico State University graduate Adam Takeshita, graduated in December of 2020 with a bachelor's degree in Aerospace Engineering.

Takeshita will be continuing his graduate studies at NMSU and a member of the university’s rocket club, Atomic Aggies. He has not only launched rockets with Virgin Galactic but is also working on creating a hybrid rocket motor.

“It’s a rocket motor that can consist of a liquid or gaseous oxidizer and then a solid fuel. One thing that’s really interesting about that is well that’s actually what Virgin Galactic uses and  it's really interesting to see not just that we’re working on this but that its been successful in the industry and even among leaders as well,” said Takeshita.

Takeshita adds that for him and other aspiring engineers and astronauts it is very interesting to have the same projects as those already in the space industry.

“It's been really good to get other students involved to just spread and show that great things are happening in the aerospace industry and we can be a part of that as well,” said Takeshita.

Meanwhile, undergraduate student Anita Jimenez believes the launch of Blue Origin and the recent launch of Virgin Galactic will provide closer opportunities for students like her in the future who wish to stay in the region.

“ It definitely will continue to grow and it gives more you know graduates like me, but even students that are like should I be an engineer, more opportunity to stay in New Mexico but closer to home wherever that may be. It’s not just two places - whether you're going private or you're going NASA you have more in between options,” said Jimenez.

Jimenez, who is also a member of the Atomic Aggies has launched rockets at Spaceport America for the past four years. She added the club has trained her and others with the skills needed in the workforce and staying close to Las Cruces will allow her to mentor incoming students.

“That’s still a big part of my life, even after I graduate as an alumni we can still be helping the team that we started and see where they can take it next. So having these companies next to us still gives us an opportunity to be that mentor to the team and do what we love,” said Jimenez.

The billionaire's launch to the edge of space also brought reactions from former NASA astronaut and UTEP alumni Danny Olivas.

In a statement provided Olivas said the following:

As the space program transitions from solely government funded space exploration, to private enterprise, it is awesome to see that the transition is taking place right in our backyard both in New Mexico and in Texas. It is easy to imagine the benefits that El Paso and this region could see from this awesome enterprise.

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