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East Stroudsburg native launching NASA satellite

A woman from Monroe County who discovered her love for aerospace engineering in a calculus class is about to launch her first weather satellite into space.

EAST STROUDSBURG, Pa. — UPDATE: The satellite launched successfully Thursday morning.

Christine Rodriguez walked the halls of East Stroudsburg North High School a decade ago. She played field hockey and was the first student to take Calculus 2 and Multivariable Calculus at the same time. So, it really is no surprise Christine is about to launch a weather satellite with NASA, especially since her senior year calculus teacher pushed her to pursue a career in aerospace engineering.

"He set up these interviews with mission control personnel down in NASA Houston. We did a lot of projects with NASA. He really kind of put a lot of energy into, and really is the foundation and the reason why I'm here right now," Christine said.

Christine graduated from East Stroudsburg North in 2014 and went on to study aerospace engineering at Arizona State University. For the past three years, this Monroe County native has been a systems engineer working on the Joint Polar Satellite System, or the JPSS-2, testing it in the lab, writing procedures, and making sure it not only works but meets NASA requirements.

"Sometimes you may get lost trying to debug or troubleshoot some code, and now it's all culminating in a big flame and rocket in the sky into orbit. It's really fulfilling. I can't even put it into words."

The JPSS-2 will orbit the earth from the north pole to the south pole, sending back data that can lead to more accurate weather forecasts.

The satellite will capture images and take measurements that will help plan for more extreme weather events, and it will measure ocean and atmosphere temperatures which will help monitor climate trends. The satellite will even be able to alert people of tornadoes up to 11 minutes faster than the information we use now.

"When I see the rocket go up tonight, hopefully, fingers crossed, then it will really sink in for me that this is real. We built something that is going to be going into space and really helping all of humanity."

The satellite is scheduled to launch Thursday morning at 4:25 a.m. Eastern time from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. You can watch the stream live here.

Check out severe weather tips on WNEP's YouTube channel.

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