Purdue’s 23rd astronaut heads to space Sunday

U.S. astronaut Scott Tingle gestures press before his final preflight practical examination in a mock-up of a Soyuz space craft at Russian Space Training Center in Star City, outside Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017. Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, U.S. astronaut Scott Tingle, and Japanese astronaut Norishige Kanai are the next crew scheduled to blast off to the International Space Station from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on a Russian made Soyuz Soyuz MS-07 space craft. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — Another name will be enshrined in Purdue’s “Cradle of Astronauts” this weekend.

Scott Tingle is set to become Purdue’s 23rd person in space. He is assigned to International Space Station Expeditions 54 and 55 set to launch Sunday from Kazakhstan.

Tingle was selected in July of 2009 as a member of NASA’s 20th astronaut class. He received his master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Purdue in 1988.

Stephen Heister, the Raisbeck Engineering Distinguished Professor for Engineering and Technology Integration at Purdue, has been good friends with Tingle for 30 years.

“We’re all excited,” said Heister. “The interesting thing about Scotty is that I met him in 1985, and on that day, he said, ‘I want to be an astronaut.’ And to think, his vision is finally coming to reality 32 years later.”

Tingle’s dream is one shared by current students at his alma mater.

“They’re heroes for me,” said Kshitij Mall, who has met Scott Tingle twice. “People like him have gone to space, and I am at the very same place. I think I’m very, very lucky to be sharing the same space and facilities as them. Hopefully, I can do my small bit for humanity as well.”

“We got to make a video to send him off to space,” said Heister. “We went out in front of the Neil Armstrong statue as like a Buzz Lightyear sort of thing sending him ‘to infinity and beyond.’ So he will enjoy that.”

Tingle will be in space for a few months. But when he makes landfall again, Purdue wants to see him.

“He will have to do the circuit,” said Heister. “He will owe us a visit.”

Online streaming coverage begins at 1:15 a.m. Sunday with the launch scheduled for 2:20 a.m.

You can watch it here.