Not in Kansas anymore
Through his job at NASA Glenn, young alumnus is helping to launch a new space age.
The Orion spacecraft being readied for a thermal test at Plum Brook Station. Photo by NASA.
Earlier this year, The Wellington (Kansas) Daily News reported on the exciting career of a favorite son, in a story that sheds light on the opportunities that await a space engineer.
Eric Stalcup, MS ’15, grew up in a small town in the sweep of south-central Kansas. His Case degree in aerospace engineering launched him toward the NASA Glenn Research Center, where he was part of the team that battle tested the Orion spacecraft before its November 2022 Moon mission.
“In simple terms, it is Stalcup and his team’s responsibility to make sure that nothing gets too hot or too cold on the Orion spacecraft,” the newspaper reported. “This is a daunting task as temperature swings are extreme through all phases of the mission; launch, flight, orbit, and landing.”
When Artemis I successfully launched from Kennedy Space Center on Nov. 16, 2022, Stalcup followed the flight of the uncrewed spacecraft from his post next to Mission Control. It was his job to watch the screens for any anomalies. Not that he expected to see any.
NASA had brought the Orion spacecraft to Plum Brook Station in Sandusky, Ohio where Stalcup and his team ran thermal vacuum tests for a month in the Neil A. Armstrong Test Facility. The massive vacuum chamber, seen in the 2012 film “The Avengers,” simulates the cold, heat, and airlessness of space.
“From my perspective, overall, the spacecraft performed better than expected,” Stalcup told the newspaper. “The solar array produced more than we expected and the spacecraft used less power than expected.”
He’s at work on the program’s next flight, Artemis II, which will take four astronauts around the Moon next year in a prelude to a planned Moon landing in 2025.