Great Minds of the Space Age

EDUC 589 - Spencer Kiper

Philosophers, Great Minds, & Leaders

STEM and Cyber professionals alike have worked together for decades to make possible some of mankind's most significant achievements. Together, professionals from both of these fields have made strides in the fields of manufacturing, biological studies, climate studies, and many other areas that would have otherwise not been possible without the cohesiveness of STEM and Cyber disciplines.


Space exploration is one of the most enthralling scientific endeavors. Its mystery and intrigue inspire some of the greatest STEM and Cyber minds of the time to contribute to the mission of exploring the stars and learning as much as possible about our world, the universe, and ourselves.


The scientists below have made significant contributions to these efforts and have left a legacy of achievements behind for future professionals in STEM and Cyber studies.

The Father of the American Space Program

Wernher von Braun

Wernher von Braun (1912-1977) was one of the most important German weapons specialists to work on rocketry and jet propulsion in the U.S. after WWII. He disapproved of military use of the rocket and surrendered willingly to American troops in 1945, eventually becoming technical director of the U.S. Army Ordnance Guided Missile Project in Alabama. He was also chiefly responsible for rocketry for the nation's space program.


Before his death in 1977, Wernher von Braun used concepts developed from the German V2 rocket to develop propulsion systems for the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo space programs. His work with the U.S. space program led to the establishment of NASA and decades of future success in space exploration.


Excerpt from Biography.com

The Time We Almost Didn't Land on the Moon

Margaret Hamilton

In one of the critical moments of the Apollo 11 mission, Margaret Hamilton's team's work and J. Halcombe Laning's operating system design, in the Apollo Guidance Computer software prevented an abort of landing on the moon. Three minutes before the Lunar lander reached the Moon's surface, several computer alarms were triggered. The computer was overloaded with incoming data, because the rendezvous radar system (not necessary for landing) updated an involuntary counter in the computer, which stole cycles from the computer. Due to its robust architecture, the computer was able to keep running; the Apollo onboard flight software was developed using an asynchronous executive so that higher priority jobs (important for landing) could interrupt lower priority jobs. The fault was attributed to a faulty checklist.


Excerpt from Wikipedia

"Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known."

Carl Sagan

Carl Sagan (1934 - 1996) played a leading role in the American space program from its very beginning. He was a consultant and adviser to NASA beginning in the 1950s -- he briefed the Apollo astronauts before their flights to the Moon.


n his role as a visiting scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., Carl helped design and manage the Mariner 2 mission to Venus, the Mariner 9 and Viking 1 and Viking 2 trips to Mars; the Voyager 1]] and Voyager 2 missions to the outer solar system and the Galileo mission to Jupiter. Carl's research helped to solve the mysteries of the high temperature of Venus (a massive greenhouse effect), the seasonal changes on Mars (windblown dust) and the reddish haze of Titan (complex organic molecules).


Excerpt from NASA.gov

Looking to the Future

Elon Musk

Born in South Africa in 1971, Elon Musk (1971) became a multimillionaire in his late 20s when he sold his start-up company, Zip2, to a division of Compaq Computers. He achieved more success by founding X.com in 1999, SpaceX in 2002 and Tesla Motors in 2003. Musk made headlines in May 2012 when SpaceX launched a rocket that would send the first commercial vehicle to the International Space Station.


Elon Musk is making game-changing moves in many industries. With innovative concepts such as Solar City and Hyperloop, Elon Musk is looking to change the faces of energy and transportation on a worldwide scale.


Excerpt from Biography.com