Ally Coonradt ’16

Ally Coonradt ’16 takes hands-on learning to new heights

Student reporter selected to cover Antares rocket launch
Ally Coonradt’16 takes hands-on learning to new heights

The Pulse’s (Messiah’s student media hub) social media manager Ally Coonradt ’16 has always been interested in astronomy and space. So it was only natural that when she saw NASA looking for social media reporters for the Antares rocket launch she applied, knowing it would be a great opportunity to combine her personal interests with professional experience.

Out of nearly 300 applicants, Coonradt was one of 50 selected to attend the launch as part of the NASA Social program. She was also the only person reporting for a college media outlet.  

“It was very surreal because here I am, a student, who hasn’t had a career yet, and I’m working with people who have been in the business for 20+ years,” said Coonradt.  

Coonradt attended press briefings, toured rocket facilities, saw mission control and met executives from NASA and Orbital Sciences (the group that owns the rocket). She also witnessed and reported live from the failed launch.

Just seconds after the rocket was cleared for take-off, scientists discovered the rocket would not reach orbit and made the call to initiate a self-destruct sequence.

Coonradt and other journalists were safely evacuated from their viewing spot approximately two miles away from the launch pad. She was thankful for the quick response and impressed with the preparedness of officials.
“As a PR major, I hear how to handle a crisis…but to see it actually play out and be a part of it was super interesting,” said Coonradt.

Taking what she learned from this experience, along with the skills she learns in the classroom, Coonradt is excited to continue bringing a variety of stories to students through her work with The Pulse.

By Erin Bray ’10

Photos courtesy of The Pulse