Preparing for Liftoff at SpaceX

Andrew Thompson and other WIT grads are launching into the great unknown.

From the moment Andrew Thompson, BMET ’11, walked into the headquarters of Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) in September 2010, he was fully immersed in the future of space travel.

SpaceX-with-ZoricaFORWEBFounded in 2002, SpaceX, based in Hawthorne, Calif., is currently developing reusable rocket technology to make space travel safe and efficient.

The day he arrived at SpaceX, Thompson was tasked with designing an aft-end test stand. The stand is used to add loads to the bottom of a rocket. This is done to test the strength of a rocket prior to the addition of an engine and a launch attempt.

“It was extremely overwhelming,” Thompson says. “With the help of fellow test engineers and our manufacturing team, we were able to build the highest test load in SpaceX history.”

Thompson started out at SpaceX as a co-op and was hired full-time in September 2011. Fellow Wentworth alum Derek Lies, BMAT ’99, served as his mentor during his time as a co-op.

“Having a co-op was a critical part in getting a full-time job at SpaceX,” Thompson says. “And having the hands-on experience from Wentworth is a huge help in my work here.”

Currently, Thompson is the structural test engineer in charge of aft-end testing of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket. The Falcon 9 has experienced a great deal of success, with a 100-percent mission success rate in three launches. The third flight made
history by being the first commercially owned rocket to dock at the International Space Station.

“I truly believe that SpaceX is going to change the world,” Thompson says, “and I am honored to be a part of that.”

ALEX NEWMAN

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