Rose-Hulman alumnus Justin Smith helps power SpaceX’s Lunar

Engineers, scientists and mathematicians once again have ambitions for American space exploration on the Moon, with Justin Smith, a Rose-Hulman alumnus in 2003, leading the way as a senior executive within the Artemis program of SpaceX with NASA.

“Going back to the Moon has been a dream of mine throughout my career,” says Smith, who completed her mechanical engineering degree at Rose-Hulman with an area of ​​concentration in aerospace engineering. “Taking humans out of Earth’s gravitational pull is a milestone in history. Having a share of responsibility in this objective is my source of pride and satisfaction.

Smith is a principal at SpaceX and recently led the private company’s guidance, navigation, and control (GNC) team to achieve human-evaluation certification for the Dragon spacecraft. He partnered with NASA astronauts to implement crew capabilities he designed with his SpaceX team, and in 2020 worked in mission control at SpaceX headquarters during the first spaceflight. crewed by a commercial supplier.

His crewed spaceflight experience helps lead the SpaceX GNC team on the development of the first commercial human landing system to deliver astronauts to the lunar surface as part of NASA’s Artemis program. According to Space.com reports, SpaceX is expected to land NASA’s Artemis 3 mission on the lunar surface in 2025 or 2026. The company also plans to conduct an uncrewed test flight to the lunar surface with Starship in 2024.

Watch the video below to learn more about how Justin Smith’s experiences at Rose-Hulman helped him achieve his dream of landing a person on the moon.

“Once you see someone flying in a rocket that you helped design and the responsibility for their life is partly in your hands and they return home safely to their family, that’s which makes all of your efforts worth it,” said Smith, who won the Alumni Honor Award from the Rose-Hulman Alumni Association earlier this spring. He completed his mechanical engineering degree with a master’s degree in aeronautical and astronautical engineering.

This technical knowledge helped Smith play an instrumental role in designing key aspects of the groundbreaking booster recovery technology the company pioneered for SpaceX’s revolutionary Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launch vehicles.

“It changed the game (in space exploration). At that time [SpaceX] has become the most affordable rocket launch service in the world,” he remarked.

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