Photo contributed by Ben Caldwell/The Duke Joseph Agency
Retired NASA engineer Norman H. Chaffee spoke to approximately 150 students Wednesday about his 38 years at the space agency.
During the visit to the Pendleton UAS Test Range, Chaffee reconnected with Oregon STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and robotics students he met last spring at the Johnson Space Center. The engineer encouraged them and their classmates to pursue their dreams in the field of technology innovation.
A video highlighted space flight endeavors that happened since Chaffee, of Pasadena, Texas, joined NASA in 1962. Among other subjects, Chaffee spoke about the imminent reality of inhabiting Mars and returning to colonize the moon within the students’ lifetime. The students soaked in information on rockets, robotics, space travel and the future of STEM-related technologies.
The teens took turns interacting with Chaffee and touring the UAS Mission Control Facility, where they learned about a variety of robotics and aerospace technologies being developed in Pendleton. The students also experienced the MCIC lab’s virtual reality simulation and its bevy of 3D printers. They held a thruster from the Apollo service module and an encapsulated Apollo heat shield.
Chaffee wore many hats throughout his long career at the Johnson Space Center, with roles as deputy division chief for the NASA Propulsion and Power Division, chief engineer for Technical Program Systems Integration and the International Space Station Program, and chief of systems of the Engineering and Integration for the NASA Lunar Mars Exploration Program.
In 1987, Dr. Chaffee was named NASA Engineer of the Year. In 1991, he became deputy chief of the Automation and Robotics division.