NASA People

Center Snapshot: Chris Savage
Chris Savage. Image above: Chris Savage stands next to the latest Orion Crew Module Ground Operations Pathfinder in Building 1232A. He worked on some of the materials that helped build the Crew Module in Langley's Machining Facility. Credit: NASA/Sean Smith

By: Denise Lineberry

Chris Savage's interest in all-things-aerospace grew larger as his world got smaller. Two years ago, he was accepted into the Cooperative Education (Co-op) program at NASA Langley and he was surprisingly introduced to his cousin, John Savage.

The two met at orientation and were referred to as the “Savage's with no relation.” That is, until John asked Chris if knew a Harry Savage.

"That's my grandfather," responded Chris.

Chris was surprised to find out that they had the same grandfather. "My family is small so I thought I knew everyone," he said. He also found it ironic that he and an unknown relative ended up working in the same field and attending many of the same courses at Thomas Nelson Community College (TNCC).

As a co-op, Chris works full-time and also attends TNCC part-time. He is in his second year of the four-year program.

He spends his days creating rapid prototypes or models for testing or display. "You can print a part just like you could print a history report," Chris said. He enjoys witnessing those 3-D drawings come to life.

As a child, Chris recalls visiting NASA Langley with his uncle, Rusty Jenkins, for an open house. As Chris was preparing to push a button to launch a model rocket, his uncle asked him, "Did you put wadding in it?"

Chris responded: "What’s wadding?"

He learned then that the wadding was a necessary ingredient towards preventing the hot gas of the ejection charge from damaging the recovery system, consisting of lines and a parachute.

He soaked up that knowledge and thirsted for more. As a camper at the Virginia Air and Space Center (VASC) he did just that. When he outgrew the camp, he became a volunteer and then a VASC educator.

Chris, who still occasionally educates at the VASC, finds opportunities to educate at NASA Langley. He talks with children that come to the center for tours and takes advantage of many outreach opportunities that are presented to him.

He realizes that similar outreach he received as a child; set him on his career path … a path that he hopes to continue trekking beyond his term as a co-op, possibly, alongside his newfound cousin.

Although his spare time isn’t plentiful, he fills it with movies, friends, disc golf and boating. And occasionally, he launches model rockets … with wadding.