Astronauts Receive Out of this World Training at Texas A&M

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Several out-of-this-world experiences begin at Texas A&M. It's an honor several aggies have had.

Wednesday afternoon, Mission Specialist Steven Swanson had his opportunity to show he's got the right stuff thousands of miles above Earth.

"There's been a history of aggies in space," David Hyland of the Texas A&M Aerospace Engineering Department said. "Swanson is our third Aggie astronaut."

Swanson was part of a special crew that performed a space walk to do work on a new power source for the space station. However he's just the most recent of a prestigious line of Aggies who have gone before him.

William Pailes ventured up into space in 1985. Then last year, Mike Fossum, class of 1980, had his chance.

Before any of them could take their first steps in space, many of them walked the halls of the engineering department at Texas A&M University.

"Our department has a lot of not only past involvement but continuing involvement with the space program," Hyland said.

Officials say their department is currently working with NASA on the design of a new space suit. Combine that with weightless training and other projects, and it's that type of hands-on experience faculty says makes all the difference.

"We're not only training astronauts. We're providing them the tools they need to go into outer space," Hyland said.

A&M officials say having some of their own venture into the depths of space is an honor that is truly rewarding.

"It makes me feel like we're doing the right things and that we're truly preparing students for the future," Hyland said.