The Michigan Engineer News Center

Aerospace chair Anthony Waas’ statement on the SpaceX Falcon 9 launch

The successful launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 and crew Dragon, carrying humans from the Kennedy center for the first time in 9 years, is a huge first step in US's second phase of space explorations.| Short Read
EnlargeDoug Hurley and Bob Behnken
IMAGE:  NASA Astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken before departing to the ISS aboard the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

The successful launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 and crew Dragon, carrying humans from the Kennedy center for the first time in 9 years, is a huge first step in the US’s second phase of space explorations. This launch adds to the many initiatives planned by our own University of Michigan Space Institute (UMSI). It also provides purpose to develop an educated workforce that will lead in many efforts related to setting up a human presence in space. 

Foremost amongst these is UM’s effort to build a strong space engineering academic program that will use the many resources in the College, including the Robotics program (Professor Ella Atkins), the Human Factors program (Adjunct Professor Nadine Sarter), the necessity to handle and anticipate risk (Adjunct Professor James Bagian), human-robot interactions in space (Associate Professor Dimitra Panagou) and the world renowned PEPL labs (Dean Alec Gallimore and  Assistant Professor Ben Jorns), a leader in space propulsion. In addition to these, the multitude of ongoing projects in ClaSP, Astronomy and elsewhere within the University and the anticipated team efforts facilitated by the UMSI situates the UM College of Engineering to be a world leader in Space engineering. It was not too long ago when the late Aerospace  Professor Harm Buning was commissioned by NASA to teach Orbital Mechanics to the astronauts in the Apollo program.  

IMAGE:  Dean of Engineering Alec Gallimore and Michigan Aerospace alumni at SpaceX in 2016.

Lastly, we are extremely proud to have alumni that worked on this launch, Michigan Aerospace Industrial Advisory Board member and Dragon Ground and Launch Operations Director, Kiko Dontchev (BSAE ’08), SpaceX Senior Space Operations Engineer, Ken Gmerek (BSAE ’11), SpaceX Navigation and Control Engineer, Duncan Miller (BSAE ’13),  SpaceX Dragon Propulsion Manager, Matthew McKeown (BSAE, MSAE 2008), and all the UM Engineering Alumni at SpaceX to whom we extend the utmost congratulations on their achievements today.


-Anthony M. Waas
Richard A. Auhll Department Chair,
Felix Pawlowski Collegiate Professor,
Aerospace Engineering




Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken
Portrait of Kim Johnson


Kimberly Johnson
Communications Manager

Aerospace Engineering

(734) 647-4701

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  • Ella Atkins

    Ella Atkins

    Professor - Aerospace Engineering

  • Nadine Sarter

    Nadine Sarter

    Adjunct Professor - Aerospace Engineering, Industrial and Operations Engineering

  • Jim Bagian

    Jim Bagian

    Adjunct Professor - Aerospace Engineering, Industrial and Operations Engineering

  • Dimitra Panagou

    Dimitra Panagou

    Associate Professor - Aerospace Engineering

  • Alec D. Gallimore

    Alec D. Gallimore

    Robert J. Vlasic Dean of Engineering, Richard F. and Eleanor A. Towner Professor, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor - Aerospace Engineering

  • Ben Jorns

    Ben Jorns

    Assistant Professor - Aerospace Engineering

The electrons absorb laser light and set up “momentum combs” (the hills) spanning the energy valleys within the material (the red line). When the electrons have an energy allowed by the quantum mechanical structure of the material—and also touch the edge of the valley—they emit light. This is why some teeth of the combs are bright and some are dark. By measuring the emitted light and precisely locating its source, the research mapped out the energy valleys in a 2D crystal of tungsten diselenide. Credit: Markus Borsch, Quantum Science Theory Lab, University of Michigan.

Mapping quantum structures with light to unlock their capabilities

Rather than installing new “2D” semiconductors in devices to see what they can do, this new method puts them through their paces with lasers and light detectors. | Medium Read