OXFORD, Miss. – Todd May, manager of NASA’s Space Launch System program, will discuss the agency’s activities and achievements Friday (Oct. 31) at the University of Mississippi.
May’s address, “Space Launch System: Building the Future of Space Exploration,” begins at 4:30 p.m. in the Overby Center auditorium. The public event is being sponsored by the School of Engineering, with support from the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and Trent Lott Institute for Leadership and Public Policy.
“This lecture is part of a NASA/SLA Day at the University of Mississippi,” said Markeeva Morgan, avionics hardware subsystem manager in NASA’s Space Launch Systems Stages Element Office and a UM engineering alumnus. “The purpose of these events is to continually provide the students with exposure to the nation’s leaders in a forum that facilitates their learning and interaction. This is a great opportunity for us to interact with, encourage and learn from the next generation of scientists, technologists, engineers, mathematicians, explorers and dreamers.”
Ryan Upshaw, assistant dean for student services in the engineering school, said officials were thrilled when Morgan presented the opportunity to bring May to campus.
“We know that his expertise will have an impact on everyone that has the chance to meet him while he is on campus,” Upshaw said. “We are very appreciative of alumni who connect us with these types of opportunities.”
Other events include a luncheon with UM honors and engineering students and the appearance of an inflatable replica of NASA’s Space Launch System at various locations around campus.
“In the future, when we’re looking back at the beginning of deep-space travel, this will be the rocket that started it all,” Morgan said. “It is the largest, most capable launch vehicle ever built.”
Based at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, May leads the nationwide team developing America’s next heavy-lift vehicle for deep-space exploration and science. Before assuming the role in 2011, he oversaw or helped manage many robotic and human spaceflight efforts. These included the Lunar Crater Observation Sensing Satellite that confirmed the presence of ice on the moon and the Gravity Probe B, which tested Einstein’s general theory of relativity.
May earned his bachelor’s degree in materials engineering from Auburn University and has completed all coursework for a doctorate in the field. His many awards include NASA’s Exceptional Achievement Medal, the Senior Executive Presidential Rank Award and NASA’s Outstanding Leadership Medal. He recently accepted the Rotary National Award for Space Achievement Foundation’s Stellar Award in recognition of the Space Launch System team’s many accomplishments.