Founded the same year as NASA and located just an hour south of Kennedy Space Center, Florida Institute of technology shares a rich history with the U.S. space program and related industry. Click the photos below for a closer look at some of our "Space Connections."

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In 1958, young physicist Jerome P. Keuper founds Brevard Engineering College in an attempt to enhance the qualifications of the scientists and engineers leading America's race for space. NASA is founded the same year.

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Year one: This 1959 photograph shows, from left, Reagan Dubose, undergraduate student and RCA technician; President Jerry Keuper; Dean Harold Dibble; Ray Work, graduate student; and Donya Dixon, graduate student and RCA quality analysis scientist.

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Missileman and faculty member Sebastian D'Alli uses the first stage of a Vanguard rocket engine to teach a rocket propulsion class in a new quadrangle classroom. The classroom and the rocket engine are still a part of the Florida Tech campus today.

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This advertisement showcases Brevard Engineering College's new permanent home, as well as its inaugural degree programs. Notice the M.S. in Space Technology—the first of its kind in the world.

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Astronaut Virgil "Gus" Grissom receives the university's first honorary doctorate from Keuper. Grissom's acceptance of an honorary doctorate in 1962 gave the young college great credibility among the scientists and engineers working at Cape Canaveral.

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Legendary rocket scientist Wernher von Braun reads a copy of the campus humor magazine during a visit to campus in June 1964.

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In 1966, Brevard Engineering College became Florida Institute of Technology. Three years later, as Apollo 11 made its way to the moon, the university entered its second decade.

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A March 1982 launch of an INTELSAT V communications satellite on an Atlas Centaur Rocket as seen from campus.

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Telescopes line the roof of the F.W. Olin Physical Sciences Building, a frequent site of stellar
astronomy labs.

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One student design project made history in June 2006, as the Panther 1 was the first student-built rocket to launch from Cape Canaveral. Named for the Florida Tech mascot, Panther 1 was a complete success. After launch, it followed a perfect parabolic path to a splashdown in the Atlantic.

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By 2008, five Florida Tech alumni had gone on to become astronauts. Among them, Sunita Williams (right) and Joan Higginbotham (left). Florida Tech alumnus George Zamka piloted the shuttle in Oct. 2007. In fact, when Higginbotham and Williams were thinking about applying to join NASA's astronaut corps, they had just about everything the agency required for candidates: strong backgrounds in math, science, engineering, operational experience and team-oriented outlooks. The only thing missing was advanced technical degrees. Both women found their way to Florida Tech, earned their degrees and were paired in a most unusual meeting of alumnae. Williams '95 M.S., engineering management, and Higginbotham '92 M.S., management, '96 M.S., space systems, made their first space flights together on the STS-116 space shuttle mission.

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On Friday, July 8, 2011, the space shuttle Atlantis embarked on its final—the final—shuttle mission. Seconds before launch, it was a Florida Tech alumnus, launch integration manager Michael Moses '91 M.S., space sciences, who made the final go/no-go decision. It was, "Go."