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From Intern to Spacewalker: How Northrop Grumman Helped Pave the Way for This NASA Astronaut

Northrop Grumman is committed to providing high-tech careers and experiences for its employees, fostering an environment that encourages growth in the industry. For one former intern, his time spent working with a heritage Northrop Grumman company helped to propel him on his path to becoming a NASA astronaut.

A Meaningful Engineering Internship

In 1987 Scott Tingle worked as an intern for Morton Thiokol. During his time with the company, he helped teams complete a series of cold flow motor tests during the reusable solid rocket motor redesign effort.

"Working at Morton Thiokol provided a great deal of engineering experience and a wonderful opportunity to use recently-learned engineering fundamentals while working as part of a very talented team, said Tingle.

The Beginning of a Career with NASA

Portrait of a white male in astronaut suit sitting in front of American flagScott Tingle, former Northrop Grumman heritage company intern, now NASA Astronaut. Credit: NASA

Tingle was selected in July 2009 to join NASA's 20th astronaut class. Prior to his selection, he began his career as an Aviation Ordnanceman in the U.S. Navy Reserve, where he also balanced an internship with Morton Thiokol.

Eight years later, on December 17, 2017, Tingle embarked on his first mission to the International Space Station as a flight engineer on the Expedition 54/55 crew. While on Station, Scott was fortunate to complete a spacewalk, just a month after his arrival.

"My colleague and I were tasked to remove and replace the latching end effector on the Space Station Remote Manipulator System (SSRMS – robotic arm)," said Tingle. "The equipment had been in space for 15 years and presented many challenges. A little patience, some focused elbow grease, and integrated teamwork with our amazing engineering team on the ground made this event very successful. Normal spacewalks are usually approximately 6 hours in duration, this one lasted 7.5 hours."

Working with Northrop Grumman Again – This Time as an Astronaut

On May 24, 2018, Tingle had the unique opportunity to help capture and dock the Northrop Grumman Cygnus cargo resupply spacecraft. Just three days before capture, Cygnus launched aboard a Northrop Grumman Antares rocket from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

Tingle returned to Earth on June 3, 2018, completing his 168-day mission aboard the orbiting laboratory. Since then, Tingle has been keeping busy with physical reconditioning, a requirement for station astronauts, technical debriefs and family time.

Aerospace device for cargo delivery attaching via arm to the International space station

Coming full circle in his career, Scott Tingle, former Northrop Grumman intern and current astronaut, helps the Northrop Grumman Cygnus cargo resupply spacecraft capture and dock on the International Space Station in May 2018.

"I'm now working at our flying squadron (Aviation Operations Division) as the deputy chief. The work is great and I get to see 400 of my favorite people every day!" he stated. "At home, I've been catching up on several backyard projects, a few home systems repair projects and a ton of auto repair projects in #MakersGarage."

Solid Internship Led to Successful Career

Scott is quick to acknowledge the role his internship played in his career path and in his decision to apply to become an astronaut.

"I still maintain what have become lifelong relationships with several of the great people who I worked with and learned from. This experience helped reinforce my confidence as I embarked on what would become a very challenging and epic journey!"

You can keep track of Tingle and his latest adventures on Twitter with the handle @Astro_Maker.


Northrop Grumman offers opportunities to interns in locations all across the globe. Click here to find out more about internships and apply for an internship for next year.


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