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Height no barrier for Newcastle student's NASA dreams

Newcastle student to land at NASA.
Sam Parker will take up a NASA internship in January 2018.

Supplied.

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A Hunter Valley student too tall to be an astronaut has landed a spot at America's National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in a different field.

Sam Parker was one of three people out of thousands of applicants from around the world to get a 2018 internship at the space agency.

He had been studying electrical engineering at Pittsburgh in the US, specialising in reading and decoding brain signals to try and help people with a disability to move their limbs again.

At NASA, the 20-year-old is expected to be decoding new experimental aircraft.

He said the internship was a dream come true.

"I've always from a young age been fascinated by space flight and space travel and I said one day I'd love to work at NASA.

He will be based at NASA's Edwards Air Force Base.

The space agency described the base as a US military facility where cutting-edge aerospace technologies were tested.

It said the base was uniquely situated to take advantage of the excellent year-round flying weather, remote area and visibility to flight test some of the nation's most unique aircraft and aeronautical systems.

Mr Parker said the work at NASA would be highly specialised.

"We are working the new round of experimental aircraft," he said.

"So mine is the first fully electric aircraft and they're putting 14 high-lift electric engines on a single aeroplane wing and then two cruising speed electric engines as well and so the plane will be powered entirely by batteries rather than a fuel supply."

Away from NASA, Mr Parker said he was passionate about helping people with a disability and his research was ongoing.

"So if someone has lost the function of their spinal chord and can no longer move their arms, I would like to decode their neural signal, send that to a computer and then have a robot then complete that action for them," he said.

"They would be able to control a robotic arm as if they were controlling their own biological arm."

The NASA internship starts in January.

NASA logo at Kennedy Space Centre
The NASA logo on a protective box for a camera near the space shuttle Endeavour April 28, 2011 at Kennedy Space Centre in Florida

AFP: Stan Honda