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Actually, It Is Rocket Science

A visit with Craig Kluever, Professor, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

By LuAnne Roth
Published: - Topics: mission design research space travel NASA spacecraft

New Directions in Aerospace Engineering

Topics: trajectory multiple skip method

For the first six years as an assistant professor, Kluever primarily focused on space missions that used electric propulsion. He worked with NASA on a lot of feasibility studies—aka “paper studies” (e.g., missions to the moon, to Mars, to the outer planets, to Pluto), studies that go into rounds of proposals that compete for selection. Unfortunately, none of the studies Kluever worked on have been selected, though he has come close. He worked on Diana, an early version of Dawn, which did get selected. Kluever has also worked with the X-33 program. In this project he looked at the approach and landing guidance system for this unpowered vehicle, which would have been the next-generation space shuttle (if the program had not been cancelled). Now the hot topic is the Crew Exploration Vehicle, the capsule in which NASA hopes to send astronauts to the moon and to Mars. Kluever is focusing on the atmospheric phase of the entry guidance system, particularly the Earth return, and also working on the ascent guidance system for the vacuum-flight phase of the Crew Launch Vehicle.