“If you’re trying to put these structures into orbit, every gram counts. Not just every pound but every gram…So you are making structures that are operating at their margins.” — Dr Chauncey Wu, NASA Langley Research Center

Today’s conversation features Dr Chauncey Wu, who is a research engineer at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.

Chauncey has worked at NASA for more than 30 years, predominantly in the field of structural mechanics, and has been responsible for designing and testing a number of space structures that have been launched into space. Some examples of his work include structural analyses on the LITE telescope that was launched into space in 1994, as well as the optimisation of rocket propellant tank structures, and conceptual design studies of lunar lander vehicles and habitat structures for the colonisation of the Moon. In this wide-ranging conversation, we discuss:

  • Chauncey’s path to NASA as an undergraduate student
  • The history of NASA and the cultural shift compared to its predecessor, the NACA
  • The reason why rocket science is so hard
  • Chauncey’s recent research on a new type of lightweight composite material: tow-steered composites, which could be a game-changer for rocket booster designs
  • And much, much more

Please enjoy this wide ranging conversation with Dr Chauncey Wu!

Selected Links from the Episode


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