Co-anchor of “Good Morning America” Michael Strahan earned her commercial astronaut wings after exploding on a Blue Origin rocket Saturday morning from Van Horn, Texas.
While Strahan, a Houston-born student and Texas Southern University alum, was inching toward the edge of space, one lucky TSU student and professor was there to watch.
Angel Mata, a senior at TSU, and aeronautics professor Ed Pataky were both present to witness the magical moment.
“I was completely blown away,” Pataky said before debuting. “I grew up with the space program. Never seen a launch, and now I have to do it.”
ABC13 caught up with the pair post-launch and it’s safe to say they’re still as blown away as they were before the launch.
“All you can say is wow,” Pataky snarled. “I just came back to earth. There’s no way to describe it. You have to be there. I’m absolutely appalled. I’ve seen it on TV a million times, seen millions of pictures of it, but there’s no It’s like actually seeing it with your own eyes.”
Pataky continued: “What really caught my eye was when the turbocharger was lowered and that really started to reverberate among the mountains over here. “It’s not just ‘boom, boom.’ It just kind of rumbles. It’s something you have to experience.”
When Strahan returned to earth, he stopped to chat with Pataky and had a message for TSU students.
“I’m out of TSU. I never thought I’d be here. I never thought I’d be anywhere near a rocket, on a rocket, near space. The only space I thought of. I’ll see between my teeth,” he joked.
Strahan continued, calling it the “best” experience of his life, adding that the experience was entirely made possible thanks to the bright minds at academies like TSU.
“You also realize that it was made by smart people like the students at TSU, who may never get the chance to move on, but their ingenuity, their education, their ability to find understand everything about them, making what we just did hopefully accessible to more people in the future,” said Strahan.
You can view Strahan’s full comment in the video player above.
Texas Southern University is the only institution in the state that offers a 4-year Aviation degree. At least 80 students are enrolled in the program.
“If you think about it, in some neighborhoods in Houston, you never get a chance to talk to a pilot or an aircraft mechanic,” explains Dr. Terence Fontaine, TSU Aviation Director.
Texas Southern is the only HBCU in the country with flight simulation programs.
Mata told ABC13 after Saturday’s successful mission that knowing Strahan joined as a TSU alum only made him more proud.
“It makes you feel proud of the legacy of, you know, Michael Strahan and the other alumni who graduated from Texas Southern. We’re a family, so the close friendship we have, it doesn’t matter what year you graduate, we will always be there for each other, so it’s great to be here and see his achievements,” said Mata.
Meanwhile, Fontaine hopes the launch of Blue Origin will inspire more students to pursue aviation – an area that has traditionally lacked diversity.
“It’s a beautiful field, aviation. I’ve loved it all my life, so I’m just trying to give back and try to help these kids realize something that I’ve realized all my life.” , Fontaine said. “For these kids to be able to talk to someone like Michael who walked down the same hallway that he did, I think makes a lot of sense.”
See the reaction from TSU aviation professor Ed Pataky and senior Angel Mata
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