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Eyes on the Future

The space shuttle program may be ending, but NC State is poised for the next frontier in space: missions to Mars and beyond.

NC State research projects on Atlantis will provide vital information for life support systems on long-term space missions, says Dr. Chris Brown, N.C. Space Grant director.

It’s no wonder that Wolfpack ties to the space program are so strong. After all, more than two dozen NC State graduates played a part in the “giant leap for mankind,” the 1969 moon landing.

NC State researchers contributed to heat shields designed  for Apollo missions. We know how to grow seeds in controlled chambers in space thanks to the work of Dr. David Raper, a soil science professor who pioneered it with soybeans.

“As a land-grant university, NC State has been involved in agricultural research for decades, so it’s appropriate that we’re drawing on that knowledge to learn how to grow plants in space that will provide food and purify the air and water,” Brown says.

Mars: Mission Possible

Forward-thinking NC State students are already working on ways to protect astronauts from cosmic radiation and meteor showers on Mars. But you won’t find them in aerospace engineering. They’re textile majors learning about lightweight, nonwoven materials.

Brown says you can find space-related majors across campus. Here are a few examples.

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE)

Explore rocketry, propulsion and tether systems for future missions | Apply.

Computer Science

Use your skills to design programs for NASA | Apply.

Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences

Figure out how to create healthy, appetizing menus for a nine-month space mission | Apply.

Marine, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

Use satellite images from space to study land use, weather patterns, urban development here on Earth | Apply.

Plant Biology

Unlock the secrets of plant growth in space | Apply.

Textiles Engineering

Experiment with lightweight, high-tech nonwoven materials | Apply.

Launch Your Research

Interested in space science? Brown says you could win a research grant for an out-of-this world idea. Students and faculty can apply for grants next fall at

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