College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Iowa State faculty treasure connections with NASA, comment on Friday’s space launch

Stephen Koenigsfeld,

“And so for the final time, Fergie, Doug, Sandy and Rex, good luck, Godspeed, and have a little fun up there.” These were the sure-to-be-quoted last words of Shuttle Launch Director Mike Leinbach before space shuttle Atlantis launched into orbit.

Atlantis, of NASA’s space shuttle program STS-135, began its final flight to the International Space Station last Friday. On board were Commander Chris Ferguson, Pilot Doug Hurley and Mission Specialists Sandy Magnus and Rex Walheim.

Although the shuttle program will soon be part of America’s past, Iowa State will continue to have ties with NASA and other space exploration programs.

Iowa State had the honor of graduating its first astronaut, Clayton Anderson in 1983. Along with this, NASA has other Iowa State alumni working for it. Kate Bruns, associate director of communications with the ISU Alumni Association, said that there are about 160 ISU graduates who have worked or are currently working at NASA.

Iowa State is working with West Virginia University on an Epps Corp project. Iowa State is the subcontractor on the project.

“What the project is basically doing is looking at dynamic roughness, which is unsteady vibrating roughness on air foils,” said Alric Rothmayer, professor of aerospace engineering at Iowa State.

Iowa State is a leading institution in both the modular reconstruction of air foils and research on the way dynamic roughness fields work.

ISU student Adam Reineke had the privilege of going down to Florida to watch the final launch of Atlantis last Friday. Reineke was one of 150 students chosen for a two-day event at NASA to participate in events and activities before the launch.

“It’s kind of sad because it’s the end of the 30-year program,” Reineke said. “And for some people, this is their whole life.”

After years of research, tragedy, and excitement, the NASA space shuttle program has come to an end.

“It was a bittersweet moment. It’s a cool project they’ve been working on, and it’s over now,” Reineke said. “It was just really emotional.”

More about Atlantis

  • ARTICLE: Atlantis docks with International Space Station for final mission

More about Space Shuttle

  • ARTICLE: Editorial: Another liftoff is reminder of space program decline