Stengel reflects on His contributions to NASA's shuttle program
Through both tragedy and success, the shuttle program has touched the lives of those who have helped shape it, including Paula Hartley, currently a program director at Lockheed Martin in Newtown, Pa.; Robert Stengel, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Princeton University; and Princeton alum Jason Rhodes, who now works for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.
Apollo module designer
Robert Stengel, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Princeton University, worked at the NASA Draper Laboratory from 1968-73. He was principal designer of the Apollo Project Lunar Module, and he contributed to space shuttle guidance and control system design.
“I really played a small role but it was an honor. For an engineer, it was just a dream job,” Stengel said.
By the time he was 30, he was working side by side with Buzz Aldrin, Pete Conrad and other astronauts and engineers.
“It was very much a business environment. It’s just what we did. It wasn’t a ‘gee gosh, wow this guy’s somebody special.’ In many respects, many hadn’t realized how special they were,” Stengel said.
As for the end of the shuttle program, Stengel, 71, maintains a sense of pride to have been a part of the shuttle experience.
“I feel extremely fortunate to be able to contribute to it,” Stengel said. “It was just an exciting thing to do and to work on. I enjoyed that very much. I don’t get nostalgic about it or too upset about it.”