Professor David Klaus understands first-hand why many students in aerospace engineering sciences aspire to be astronauts. He himself was an astronaut candidate finalist in 1998 and 2000.
"I've been fascinated by human space exploration since I was a young kid," Klaus says, "and feel fortunate to be able to play a role in bringing it about."
In fact, Klaus has devoted his career to working with the space program since earning his bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from West Virginia University in 1984. Immediately following graduation, he took a job as a Shuttle launch controller at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and, a few years later, transitioned to mission operations at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. In these roles, he worked with Shuttle life support systems, numerical thermal modeling, and advanced space suit test and analysis activities.
During his experience in Shuttle operations, Klaus developed a growing interest in understanding how living organisms responded to the weightless environment encountered in a spacecraft. With this purpose in mind, he became a research assistant at BioServe Space Technologies while pursuing graduate studies at the University of Colorado. He earned his master's and PhD degrees in aerospace engineering sciences and then spent 1994-95 as a post-doctoral Fulbright Scholar at the DLR Institute for Flight Medicine in Cologne, Germany, before returning to CU and eventually becoming a faculty member. He acquired additional training in space biology and medicine in Russia during the summer of 2002.
"One thing that I have always appreciated about space flight," says Klaus, "is that, by its very nature, it presents a unique opportunity for international cooperation. There are no dotted lines revealing national boundaries on the planet when viewed from space."
As an assistant professor of aerospace engineering sciences, Klaus was awarded the American Society for Gravitational and Space Biology's Young Investigator Award in 2003 and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Rocky Mountain Section's Educator of the Year Award in 2004.
He also serves as an associate director of BioServe Space Technologies, where he has been involved with biotechnology payloads flown on 23 missions aboard the Shuttle, Mir, and International Space Station. He is active in a number of ongoing research projects and has authored or co-authored more than 50 scientific articles and technical reports in the field of bioastronautics, which encompasses the study and support of life in space.
Klaus is currently working to establish a new engineering curriculum emphasis on human space flight. He has developed or modified a number of courses to formally integrate this multidisciplinary subject matter into the field of aerospace engineering sciences.
*Read about Dave Klaus and his students' involvement with the Dream Chaser commercial spacecraft in this CU Press Release.