Good News Friday: A North Carolina college grad is going to space for NASA

UNC-Chapel Hill grad Zena Cardman is going to space this year with NASA’s SpaceX Crew-9 mission. (Photo via NASA)

By Leah Sherrell

February 9, 2024

Our weekly roundup of good news from NC is bound for outer space. Plus: The NC connection behind this week’s viral feelgood moment at the Grammys.

Happy Friday everyone! It’s that good news time of the week we’ve all been waiting for.

Let’s hop on in.

UNC Alumna is Going to Space

Good News Friday: A North Carolina college grad is going to space for NASA

(Photo via NASA)

Zena Cardman, a two-time graduate from UNC-Chapel Hill, is going to space this summer as part of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-9 mission. This will be her first time in space after graduating from NASA’s Artemis program, which aims to land the first woman and first person of color on the moon.

In 2017, she was selected for the program out of 18,000 applicants and since completing initial training she has supported the developments for moon exploration.

She joins Christina Koch, who has three degrees from NC State University and holds the longest recorded female spaceflight, as a North Carolina public university-educated astronaut.

Western Carolina Professor Joins the NC Literary Hall of Fame

Ron Rash, author of NY Times Bestseller “Serena,” will be inducted into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame in October. The Boiling Springs native often writes the Appalachian Mountains into his novels and short stories. Critics like to call it “Appalachian Noir.”

Rash, a professor of Appalachian Cultural Studies at Western Carolina University, won the prestigious O. Henry Award for short stories in 2005.

This week’s feel-good moment at the Grammys

North Carolina native, Luke Combs, joined Tracy Chapman at the Grammys last week for a rendition of “Fast Car,” for which Chapman received several Grammy Award nominations in 1989.

Combs, born in Huntersville, released a cover of the song in 2023 where it rocketed to the number 1 sprt on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart. The cover won two awards at the 2023 Country Music Awards for both the song and single of the year.

Since the performance, sales of Chapman’s song increased by 38,400%, and Combs’ version saw a sales increase of 3,900%.

Cary Company Gets a Huge Boost from Disney

Epic Games, a Cary-based video games company, is set to receive a $1.5 billion investment from Disney.

Epic, which released the popular online game Fortnite, in 2017, will partner with Disney to incorporate characters from Disney, Marvel, Star Wars, and Pixar into the Fortnite universe.


  • Leah Sherrell

    Leah Sherrell is a multimedia reporter for Cardinal & Pine. A graduate of UNC-Wilmington, she's a resident of Kernersville with a background in video production and communication. Leah uses many forms of media to explore the multifaceted lifestyles and cultures present in North Carolina.



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