January 23, 2017

Three Purdue alums take on duties for NASA space station mission

Gary Horlacher Gary Horlacher (Photo/NASA)
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue University will be well represented on an upcoming NASA mission with three alumni picked for significant duties on a 2018 flight to the International Space Station.

Veteran astronaut Drew Feustel will take his first long-duration mission as flight engineer of Expedition 55, scheduled to launch in March 2018. He joins fellow Purdue graduate and first-time astronaut Scott Tingle, who initially will launch in October as part of Expedition 54.

Tingle was originally scheduled to launch in September on Expedition 53, but NASA switched that assignment in November.

In addition to the two Purdue alumni, Expedition 55 will feature a third Boilermaker presence on the ground: Gary Horlacher, a 1989 graduate of Purdue’s Interdisciplinary Engineering program, now the School of Engineering Education, will serve as lead flight director for the expedition.

Drew Feustel Drew Feustel (Photo/NASA)
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“This is a first … two Boilermakers on an International Space Station mission together…with a Boilermaker calling the shots as the lead flight director in Mission Control,” Feustel said. “I could not be more excited to work with Scott Tingle and Gary Horlacher (and many other Boilermakers around the agency) during such a dynamic time for human spaceflight. Boiler Up!”

As lead flight director, Horlacher orchestrates mission control with authority and is responsible for decisions affecting the safety of the crew and the success of the mission.

“Purdue has long been a provider of world-class technical professionals who have had a profound impact on our space program,” Tingle said. “It is very exciting and humbling to be part of ‘Team Boilermaker’ during International Space Station Expedition 55.”

NASA expedition schedules are fluid and subject to change.

Scott Tingle Scott Tingle (Photo/NASA)
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There will be more than alumni going into space. Purdue approved Tingle carrying the Neil A. Armstrong Medal of Excellence to represent the university as well as items representing the College of Engineering, the School of Mechanical Engineering and Zucrow Labs on his missions. The items still face final approval from NASA.

Horlacher served as lead flight director for the last flight of the Endeavor space shuttle in 2011, among other missions.

Feustel earned a bachelor’s degree in solid earth sciences in 1989 and a master’s degree in geophysics in 1991, both from Purdue. Tingle graduated from Purdue with a master’s degree in mechanical engineering in 1988, specializing in fluid mechanics and propulsion.

Purdue has 23 alumni astronauts. It is often referred to as the “Cradle of Astronauts.” 

Writer: Brian L. Huchel, 765-494-2084, bhuchel@purdue.edu 

Sources: Megan Sumner, 281-792-7520, megan.c.sumner@nasa.gov

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