A Galactic Perspective

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CU engineering students are getting an “out of this world” education from two former astronauts now serving on the faculty in aerospace engineering sciences.

Astronauts Jim Voss, who received his master’s in aerospace engineering at CU-Boulder in 1974 and an honorary doctorate in 2000, and Joe Tanner, a graduate of the University of Illinois, bring 43 years of combined experience at NASA, including nine spaceflights, 11 spacewalks, and more than eight months of total time in space.

Voss and Tanner are teaching graduate and undergraduate students, advising students in hands-on design projects, and helping to advance the graduate program in bioastronautics led by Professor David Klaus.

“At first, talking to Joe and knowing he was an astronaut, I thought, ‘Wow, that’s really impressive,’” says CU graduate student Christine Fanchiang. “Then, when we had a lot of questions about the space shuttle, I came to realize how helpful it really is to have him and Jim as advisors.”

Fanchiang is working with other students to develop a software package that optimizes the arrangement of life support and other components vital to astronaut operations in a spacecraft. The work is part of a research partnership CU-Boulder has with Sierra Nevada Space Systems, which is designing and building a manned spacecraft called the Dream Chaser intended to replace the space shuttle for transporting humans and cargo into low-Earth orbit.

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