Penn HS graduate a key engineer involved in SpaceX launch

Published: May. 27, 2020 at 7:12 PM EDT
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The world will have to wait just a little while longer for SpaceX to make history, a journey guided by 1997 Penn High School graduate Jon Edwards, who told Chief Meteorologist Mike Hoffman in 2012, he’s wanted to work in this field ever since he was a kid.

“Astronauts were like rock stars to me,” he remarked.

In his youth, Edwards enjoyed visiting the planetarium operated by the Penn-Harris-Madison School Corporation. That experience also whet his appetite for astronautical engineering, a field he pursued at Purdue University. There, he met Professor Dr. Steven Collicott.

“He led a small team of students – five or six students – who proposed to NASA a new experiment to fly in weightlessness on a NASA test aircraft,” explained Collicott.

NASA selected Jon’s project for which he and his classmates designed and built the hardware. In 2000, Mike Hoffman joined Jon for that for that test flight at Johnson Space Center in Houston.


“Like many of our students, Jon was a good worker, but also, he was a quiet leader,” Collicott said. “He was able to get his group to accomplish some really important work, some big steps – make this whole, design, build, test – you know – real world engineering experience happen.”

After earning his Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees from Purdue, Edwards began his career at SpaceX in 2004. This past February, the company promoted Edwards to Vice President of Falcon Launch Vehicles, a feat that brings pride to his former professor.

“I’ve been [at Purdue for] 30 years. It’s not just Jon Edwards. He has a whole group of Boilermakers working with him there at SpaceX,” Collicott said. “It’s a great feeling that so many people I’ve had in class over the years are accomplishing these great things.”

The SpaceX launch has been tentatively rescheduled for Saturday, May 30.

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