The successful launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 and crew Dragon, carrying humans from the Kennedy center for the first time in 9 years, is a huge first step in the US’s second phase of space explorations.
This launch adds to the many initiatives planned by our own University of Michigan Space Institute (UMSI). It also provides purpose to develop an educated workforce that will lead in many efforts related to setting up a human presence in space.
Foremost amongst these is UM’s effort to build a strong space engineering academic program that will use the many resources in the College, including the Robotics program (Professor Ella Atkins), the Human Factors program (Adjunct Professor Nadine Sarter), the necessity to handle and anticipate risk (Adjunct Professor James Bagian), human-robot interactions in space (Associate Professor Dimitra Panagou) and the world renowned PEPL labs (Dean Alec Gallimore and Assistant Professor Ben Jorns), a leader in space propulsion. In addition to these, the multitude of ongoing projects in ClaSP, Astronomy and elsewhere within the University and the anticipated team efforts facilitated by the UMSI situates the UM College of Engineering to be a world leader in Space engineering. It was not too long ago when the late Aerospace Professor Harm Buning was commissioned by NASA to teach Orbital Mechanics to the astronauts in the Apollo program.
Lastly, we are extremely proud to have alumni that worked on this launch, Michigan Aerospace Industrial Advisory Board member and Dragon Ground and Launch Operations Director, Kiko Dontchev (BSAE ’08), SpaceX Senior Space Operations Engineer, Ken Gmerek (BSAE ’11), SpaceX Navigation and Control Engineer, Duncan Miller (BSAE ’13), SpaceX Dragon Propulsion Manager, Matthew McKeown (BSAE, MSAE 2008), and all the UM Engineering Alumni at SpaceX to whom we extend the utmost congratulations on their achievements today.
—Anthony M. Waas
Richard A. Auhll Department Chair, Felix Pawlowski Collegiate Professor,
Michigan Aerospace Engineering