Astronaut Scholarship Foundation

Created By The Mercury 7 Astronauts

Scholar Spotlight: Derek Lang

Lang assists with DC-X Restoration

Derek Lang, 1996-1997 Astronaut Scholar, continues to work as a consultant with the Stramler Group.  Lang graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in aerospace engineering. His latest project was helping to build and test the Echostar-16 communications satellite, which will broadcast satellite-to-home programming for DISH Network.  The next step is to take the spacecraft out to the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan where it will be launched on a Russian Proton M/Breeze M rocket.

Making use of the PhD that ASF supported him through, Derek got his feet wet teaching an undergraduate class on Aerospace Flight Mechanics at San Jose State University.  He said it took awhile getting used to being called “Professor.”  Prior to this, he mentored students building CubeSat test platforms for their Senior Design class.  Derek also serves on the Board of Advisors for Generation Orbital Launch Services, a start-up company that is designing a nano-satellite launch vehicle to be launched from an aircraft.

Last year, Derek spent his spare time refurbishing a bi-propellant liquid rocket engine and test fired it in the Mojave Desert.  Unfortunately, an ignition failure caused the engine to blow up on the test stand.  Going back to the drawing board, Derek is designing a new engine to try again.

DC-X/A Launch (Courtesy of NASA)

Derek recently headed out to the New Mexico Space History Museum to help with restoration of the DC-X reusable launch vehicle technology demonstrator in preparation for its 20th Anniversary celebration.  ASF’s Pete Conrad was Flight Manager for the original program and later spun off a company to commercialize the technology.  The restoration project will help document its historical achievements as well as highlight private rocket ventures that have followed and are paving the way for routine access to space.