An Illinois flag that had been carried aboard a space shuttle flight and a montage of Mission Control photos, including a 2007 Atlantis patch, were presented as gifts to the Aerospace Engineering Department by Illini Comeback guests Col. Lee "Bru" Archambault and Cathy Larson Koerner.
Archambault, BS 82, MS 84, pilot of the space shuttle Atlantis to the International Space Station this past June, and Koerner, BS 87, MS 89, shuttle program manager of the Missions Operations Directorate, were invited back to campus as special guests for the University of Illinois Homecoming, October 26-28. The two alumni interacted with students, staff and faculty through formal programs, and social activities as part of Illini Comeback, a program of the Student Alumni Association and the UI Alumni Association.
Meeting with Aerospace Engineering students, Archambault presented a talk on his recent space shuttle flight and joined Koerner in a question-answer session about their respective careers. Koerner also showed a promotional video she hoped would get the students excited about NASA?s upcoming Constellation program that is designed to replace the shuttle program with manned flights to the moon and Mars.
A distinguished graduate of the Air Force Officer Training School, Archambault was commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1985 and earned his pilot wings a year later. He flew 22 combat missions in 1990 and 1991during the first Gulf War and graduated first in his class from the Air Force Test Pilot School in 1995.
A decorated military pilot, Archambault has earned the Distinguished Flying Cross and Meritorious Service Medal, among other awards, and has logged more than 4,250 flight hours in more than 30 different aircraft. Selected as a pilot by NASA in 1998, he has served as the lead astronaut support person for two shuttle flights in 2002 and 2005 and in October 2004 was assigned as CAPCOM, the lead capsule communicator. He has logged a total of 14 days and 5.8 million miles in space. Aerospace Engineering recognized Archambault with the Outstanding Recent Alumnus Award in 1993. He is also an inductee of the Proviso West (Illinois) High School Hall of Fame.
Koerner oversees support to NASA's space shuttle program at Johnson Space Center in Houston. She holds the distinction of being one of just 69 flight directors that the space agency has produced in its 48-year history. Of that select number, only nine have been women.
Having joined the Johnson Space Center in 1991 following a stint at NASA'?s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., Koerner worked 43 missions as a certified flight controller and later managed 16 flight controllers as the lead of the Space Shuttle Propulsion Systems Group. Since 2000, she has been a flight director, trained in leading both space shuttle and International Space Station missions.
She has received numerous NASA honors, including its Outstanding Leadership Medal and the Space Flight Awareness Team Award. Koerner received AE's Outstanding Recent Alumna Award in 1999. While a UI student, Koerner was a member of the Student Alumni Ambassadors and escorted Illini Comeback guest and fellow AE alumnus, astronaut Steve Nagel BS 69.