MIT Alum to Command Shuttle Flight in AprilBy Eva Moy
The Space Shuttle Endeavour will carry a memento belonging to Yngve K. Raustein '94 into space on its next mission, which is scheduled for April 3.
The memento, a small Norwegian flag that Raustein kept in his room, will be carried by Col. Kenneth D. Cameron '78, a Marine, the commander of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration shuttle mission STS-56, according to Loretta A. Hernandez, an administrative secretary in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics who follows the careers of astronauts from MIT.
Raustein, who was murdered on Memorial Drive in September, was an aeronautics and astronautics student and an avid fan of space flight. The flag will be presented to his family, who live in Norway, when it returns from space.
"We think that's just an outstanding gesture [Cameron's] making to help the Rausteins," said Prof. Earll M. Murman, who heads Course XVI.
In addition, Cameron is bringing the James Means Memorial Award into space for the department. The medal is presented to two seniors each year for excellence in space vehicle engineering, said Murman. The award will be displayed in the department upon its return.
Cameron's second trip in space
Cameron's ties to the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics stem from his years spent as an undergraduate and graduate student here. He received both his bachelor's and master's degrees from MIT.
Cameron joined NASA in 1984 and became an astronaut in 1985. He was the pilot on the crew of STS-37, his first mission, in April 1991. On that flight, Cameron brought a plastic fragment from the wing of Daedalus, MIT's human-powered aircraft that flew 72 miles from Crete to Santorini. The April 3 mission will be Cameron's second flight, according to NASA.
"Cameron is just a first-rate person," Murman said. He is "quite familiar to MIT and contributes a lot to us in a lot of ways."
"He is simply a marvelous fellow," said John J. Deyst '58, director of the Guidance Technology Center at Draper Laboratories. "If there is any difficulty [on the space shuttle], he is the person you want to be with."
Cameron completed his master's thesis on the problem of vertical take-off and landing of aircraft on decks of ships smaller than aircraft carriers under Deyst.
On next month's nine-day mission, Cameron and his colleagues will "conduct atmospheric and solar studies in order to better understand the effect of solar activity on the Earth's climate and environment," according to a NASA memo. The flight has already been postponed three times, Hernandez said.
Another MIT graduate, Janice Voss PhD '87, will fly as a mission specialist on the crew of STS-57, scheduled for launch in mid-1993, according to a NASA document.
As of September 1992, 20 MIT graduates have visited space as astronauts or payload specialists, according to Amanda Sigfried of Purdue University. At that time, MIT and Purdue were tied in second place for the number of graduates in space behind the U.S. Naval Academy.