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Purdue Boilermakers in Space

Purdue alumnus Eugene Cernan walks on the moon during the Apollo 17 mission.

Eugene Cernan (BS electrical engineering ’56) walked upon the lunar surface as commander of the Apollo 17 mission. (Photo courtesy of NASA)

Learn about the proud history of space exploration and modern-day innovations at Purdue, the Cradle of Astronauts™

Few universities can match the impact that Purdue has had upon the U.S. space program. 
In addition to the many Purdue astronauts who have already traveled to space — from early legends like Virgil “Gus” Grissom and Neil Armstrong to modern-day Boilermakers working on the International Space Station and as commercial astronauts — the university continues to produce innovations and engineering talent that will someday allow a new generation of adventurous Boilermakers to travel to Mars and beyond. 
On this page, learn about Purdue’s proud legacy in space exploration, as well as Boilermakers’ new discoveries that will help humankind take its next giant leaps. 


Since completing astronaut training in 2020, Loral O’Hara has been waiting for her flight to space. It’s finally coming.

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Though setbacks could have deterred her, Bandla persisted and achieved her dream of going into space Sirisha Bandla’s earliest childhood memories involve lying on the roof of her family’s home in India and staring at the night sky. “In India, your power would come in for hours at a time and then shut off. And when …

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By performing vital engineering work during Blue Origin’s New Shepard flight, Audrey Powers qualified as Purdue’s third commercial astronaut and 27th member of the Cradle of Astronauts.

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Purdue’s 27 astronaut alumni include Neil Armstrong and Eugene Cernan, the first and most recent humans to walk on the moon, as well as: 

  • Gus Grissom: Second American in space and participant in first U.S. two-person spaceflight 
  • Janice Voss: Set record for female astronauts with five spaceflights 
  • Jerry Ross: Participant in seven NASA missions and nine spacewalks 
  • Beth Moses: First female commercial astronaut 
  • Loren Shriver: Commanded Space Shuttle to record altitude (380 miles) to deploy Hubble Space Telescope 
  • Drew Feustel: Third-most hours spent spacewalking (61 hours, 48 minutes) 


Meet the 27 Purdue astronauts who have traveled to space. 

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