Aviation Technology Student Interns on Ground Floor of Suborbital Space Flights

January 31, 2014 -- CNM student Alexxandria (Lexy) Snell may not be venturing into space, but she will soon be helping people get there. The Aviation Maintenance major was offered a coveted summer internship with Virgin Galactic in Mojave, Calif., doing what she loves – repairing aircraft.

Jul 17, 2015

Virgin Galactic is the company that will be offering commercial, suborbital space travel to fledgling astronauts for a price tag of $250,000 each. More than 700 people have already signed up for the venture. The spacecraft will launch from Spaceport America in southern New Mexico, the world’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport that’s now under construction.

After her three-month internship in California, Snell hopes to be hired to work at the Spaceport.

“I am so excited to have this internship. This was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down,” Snell said. “I’ll have a hand in the first civilian space orbit.”

At Virgin Galactic, Snell will be working on one of two types of aircraft. One is WhiteNightTwo, the plane that will carry the rocket ship into space. The other is SpaceshipTwo, the rocket-powered space plane that launches horizontally from WhiteNightTwo at around 50,000 feet.

These two aircraft are complicated. The SpaceshipTwo will be placed centrally between WhiteKnightTwo’s wings.

Snell joined CNM’s aviation program after a friend who was enrolling in the program told her about it. Always interested in car repair, she decided to learn about repairing aircraft. She already had an associate degree in art from CNM, and this was a detour into something different.

While she was in the CNM program, Snell strived to be outstanding. Among her efforts was participation in SkillsUSA, winning first place in the state competition for aviation maintenance and eighth place in the national competition. She was the only female competing in both.

She was also the only woman in the CNM aviation program. That’s changed since she started two-and- a-half years ago. Now there are several.

“I fit in really well in the Aviation Technology program,” Snell said. “We are pretty much a family, and we have learned a lot from each other.”

She applied for the Virgin Galactic internship after one of her instructors, Jeremy Frick, saw the opening on the Internet and told her about it. “I can’t believe I got it. It’s pretty amazing,” Snell said.