School of Mines grad to work at Mission Control

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RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — A graduating South Dakota School of Mines and Technology student has landed a job in a room that any space buff will quickly recognize: NASA's Mission Control Center.

Ryan Brown, 32, of Rapid City, graduates Dec. 20 with a degree in computer engineering and starts work in February at Johnson Space Center in Houston. After 18 months of training, he'll help with the operation of the International Space Station. His role will be to oversee the communications system, set up video conferences with the astronauts and troubleshoot computer problems at the console named CRONUS.

"It's the most busy desk in the room," he said of Mission Control, which has supported every human spaceflight for the U.S. since 1965. "So if there are any issues between the International Space Station, that will be my problem."

Brown said he'll be advising the flight director and have to make quick decisions about major issues, but he won't talk directly to the astronauts unless it's a unique situation. He said his eight years serving with U.S. Army, including with special forces units in Iraq, Afghanistan and Africa, prepared him for the fast pace.

"This is a real big deal," said Tom Durkin, deputy director of the South Dakota Space Grant Consortium at School of Mines. "It really doesn't get any better than this in terms of placing our students in important and cutting-edge careers."

Brown dropped out of high school but got his GED and joined the Army, which allowed him to go to college and meet someone at a career fair who sparked the dream of working with the space program.

"It was so far from anything I thought possible that it never dawned on me to dream of that as a possibility," he said.



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