Who says liberal arts aren’t rocket science?
Southwestern alumnus Andy Welch ’95, Principal Electrical Engineer at Orbital Sciences, saw his dreams and efforts take flight - literally - a few weeks ago.
After working intensively for four years on a project to take cargo to the international space station, Andy watched the successful launch of the project’s result - the Antares rocket.
While the launch on Sunday, April 21, from Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia was a test flight designed to put a test payload into orbit, Welch explained that in a few months the next launch will go to the space station.
“Now that the space shuttles are retired,” Welch said, “NASA does not have an existing vehicle for delivery of crew or cargo to the space station. Orbital Sciences is one of two commercial companies providing cargo delivery for NASA, which has not been done before.”
Over the next few years, eight more rockets will launch to deliver cargo. Welch has worked at Orbital Sciences for more than 10 years. For the last four he’s collaborated with a team of engineers to design, test, and operate the electrical systems and ground support for the vehicle.
“A large portion of the first stage of the rocket was built in the Ukraine,” Welch explained. “I traveled there several times to work out how our electrical systems would interface with theirs. It has been a challenging assignment requiring lots of travel and really long hours over the last few years, but am still pretty excited about it.”