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Air Force Academy helps Artemis rocket take off into the stars

Cadets and faculty have been helping with the Orion capsule that would hold astronauts
Cadet Vaugh Roy displays some of the industry-leading technology at the Air Force Academy
Posted at 7:08 PM, Aug 31, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-01 15:00:30-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — As the Artemis rocket prepares to launch this Saturday, none of it could have happened without the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.

For 25 years, cadets and faculty have been working hard with their industry-leading wind tunnels to detect the aerodynamics of the Orion capsule that will hold astronauts.

"NASA doesn't have a lot of wind tunnels. At least not at NASA Johnson. We do. We've got wind tunnels that span the spectrum of zero knots to mach six, here at the Air Force Academy", says Aeronautics department head Col. Douglas Wickert.

While every state from across the country has contributed to the mission, the Air Force Academy has been focusing on the Orion capsule.

"The Orion capsule has to get out of the atmosphere and come back down through the atmosphere and there's a lot of complex aerodynamics associated with that, and that's what our cadets and faculties have done over the years," says Wickert.

Dr. Tom Yechout has been working with cadets for years on this project. He says that it gives him great pride to offer his students such impactful work.

"They can make a contribution to a need, a real need that NASA has," says Yechout.

In fact, cadets were able to find an issue with the Orion capsule that NASA did not know about.

"The Orion system showed a seperation issue from the capsule. So cadets discovered that shared it with NASA, and that system is now on the Artemis system," says Wickert.

At the end of the day, the curriculum and work that Dr. Yechout gets to do makes him happy.

"Being able to contribute to our national space program is a privilege," says Yechout

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