The Importance of Internship Experience: Northrop Grumman Paves the Way from Intern to Spacewalker 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. Scott Tingle embodies the value and importance of internship experience, as his time interning with a heritage Northrop Grumman company helped propel him along a path to become a NASA astronaut.

A Meaningful Engineering Internship

In 1987, Scott Tingle worked as an intern for Morton Thiokol, a Northrop Grumman subsidiary. 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


Scott 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. 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. Scott completed his first spacewalk just one 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),” Tingle said. “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 about six hours in duration, this one lasted seven and a half hours.”

Working With Northrop Grumman Again, as an Astronaut

On May 24, 2018, Tingle helped 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. Today he keeps busy with physical reconditioning (a requirement for station astronauts), technical debriefs and family time.

“I’m now working at our flying squadron (Aviation Operations Division) as the deputy chief,” said Tingle. “The work is great and I get to see 400 of my favorite people every day! 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 to Successful Career

Scott acknowledges the importance of internship experience and the role it played in his career.

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

You can follow Tingle and his latest adventures on Twitter with the handle @Astro_Maker.

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

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