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Endeavor Space Shuttle Flight Director Is Clarkson Alumnus
Clarkson University alumnus Michael L. Sarafin is flight director for the Endeavor space shuttle mission, which launched from Kennedy Space Center yesterday evening. Sarafin graduated from Clarkson in 1994 with a bachelor of science degree in aeronautical engineering.
Leading a team of flight controllers, support personnel and engineering experts, a flight director has the overall responsibility to manage and carry out space shuttle flights and International Space Station expeditions. A flight director also leads and orchestrates planning and integration activities with flight controllers, payload customers, International Space Station partners and others.
While a student at Clarkson, Sarafin took a six-month co-op job at NASA's Johnson Space Center. This led to a position, upon graduation, as a space shuttle software engineer, developing cockpit display and global positioning system navigation requirements. He became a guidance, navigation and control officer in 1995, supporting 30 shuttle flights in Mission Control, and was named a flight director in 2005.
In a 2000 interview with Clarkson magazine, Sarafin said that he appreciated both the co-op and classroom experiences, which he had as a Clarkson undergraduate. "The opportunity to work at NASA as part of the co-op program and the engineering knowledge I accumulated at Clarkson provided the foundation for my career at NASA," he said. "All those hours spent studying engineering and poring over physics and structural dynamics at Clarkson really paid off."
Clarkson University, located in Potsdam, New York, is a private, nationally ranked university with a reputation for developing innovative leaders in engineering, business, the sciences, health sciences and the humanities. At Clarkson, 3, 000 high-ability students excel in an environment where learning is not only positive, friendly and supportive, but spans the boundaries of traditional disciplines and knowledge. Faculty members achieve international recognition for their research and scholarship and connect students to their leadership potential in the marketplace through dynamic, real-world problem solving.