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Updated: 08/13/2014 08:14:01AM

Young engineer making his mark in space travel

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Courtesy photo

Kyle LeBlanc is an intern at SpaceX, helping develop parts for space crafts. He is pictured in front of a command module being designed for a space mission -- eventually targeting Mars for a landing and exploration.

Courtesy photo

In the early morning hours of Aug. 5, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral, carrying a telecommunications satellite.


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We all played “What do you want to be when you grow up?” when we were kids. Most of us wanted to be firemen or basketball stars or doctors. Some of us actually accomplished our dreams. Mostly, though, life has a way of turning you in a different direction.

This is a story about a young man who has known as a child what he wanted to do ... and he’s done it.

Kyle LeBlanc, son of Ken and Elisabeth LeBlanc of Lake Placid, has wanted to be an engineer all his life. When he was 13 years old, he and a friend invented and designed a part for paint ball guns that enabled the shooter to rapidly change between barrels. They put the piece into production and actually sold most of their stock. At 13.

When he was in high school, Kyle begged for a vintage car. His folks finally relented and purchased a 1979 Porsche 928, with the provision that Kyle would purchase all the parts for restoration and complete the work himself. Done and done — work that has put many adults into the loony bin was completed by a young man not yet out of high school.

Kyle is putting those engineering skills to good use now, even though he’s yet to graduate from the University of Florida.

Today, Kyle is interning at SpaceX, a private corporation whose mission is to revolutionize space technology, with the goal of enabling people to live on other planets. At its facility in Los Angeles, LeBlanc’s summer internship has him designing, testing and producing parts for SpaceX projects.

LeBlanc is a member of Society of Automobile Engineers, a professional organization of engineers and related technical experts in the aerospace, automotive and commercial-vehicle industries. He was recruited by SpaceX to serve as a paid intern over the summer. LeBlanc has been invited to participate in a fall internship also, which he has accepted.

LeBlanc will first return to Lake Placid to be married to Ashley Forrester; they will both return to Los Angeles, where he has purchased a sailboat to make their home.

SpaceX has plans for a future manned mission to Mars but currently is busy placing satellites into space for other corporations. It also works with the U.S. government to deliver critical scientific equipment to the International Space Station and return equipment and results to Earth. Currently, SpaceX has the only craft capable of not only delivering cargo, but returning it to Earth.

Launches for SpaceX take place at Cape Canaveral. In the early morning hours of Aug. 5, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral, carrying a telecommunications satellite.

Kyle LeBlanc is certainly a young man who knows how to meet his goals. Currently a senior at University of Florida College of Engineering, LeBlanc is the epitome of local kid that made good.