Last summer, NASA dropped three small airplanes from 100 feet in tests meant to simulate severe but survivable crashes. It collected data on their black boxes and on the emergency locator transmitters that automatically alert emergency responders to the event of a crash and broadcast its location. Prior to one of the tests, Morgan Re collected samples of the dirt pile in which the plane was going to be dropped, so that NASA engineers could analyze its properties. This summer, NASA is dropping a full-scale model of its Orion spacecraft nine times into a one million-gallon water impact basin at its Langley Landing and Impact Research Facility (LandIR), to simulate many different events that could take place during an actual landing in the Pacific Ocean. In preparation for that test, Re helped to place high-speed cameras in the basin. They enable NASA researchers to measure the angle and plunge depth of the Orion as it hits the water, learn what events may endanger a crew, and develop equipment to prevent or mitigate such events.
Re, 18, is a senior at John Handley High School, in Winchester, Virginia, as well as a student at Mountain Vista Governor’s School for Science, Math & Technology, in Middletown, Virginia, where she is taking classes in physics, research, multi-variable calculus, humanities, and government, all for college credit. Re graduates two times this month: once with an advanced high school diploma and again with an Associates of Science degree from Lord Fairfax Community College. She has the distinction of being a Virginia Governor’s Scholar. And she knows what she wants to be: an aerospace engineer who works in the space industry.