TULLAHOMA, Tenn. (WKRN) – In 1962, President John F. Kennedy famously made it a national goal to reach the moon by the end of the decade.
Dr. Bill Baker, currently the Technical Director of the AEDC Test Operations Division, was determined to help make that happen. But he had to hurry.
Baker was worried that the entire space program would be over with before he was finished with his schooling. So, he went year-round at Mississippi State and was able to graduate in 1963 with both his bachelor’s and his master’s in Aerospace Engineering. He started working at the AEDC in 1964.
Baker started work testing for the Apollo program as an assistant engineer working on the Apollo escape module. Over the years he’s enjoyed a varied career and has spent much of his time either working in space facilities or with the wind tunnels.
Baker has a lot of memories from working on the Apollo Program. Getting the third stage of the Saturn V rocket in for testing was quite the challenge.
“The S-IVB that we tested was the third stage of the Saturn V and we tested in the J-4 facility. That was delivered to AEDC on the Tennessee River, it was like 21 feet in diameter. So, they loaded from the barge onto a truck and had to drive it to AEDC and they had to take down power lines and telephone lines to make room for this large stage to move up here.”
Even after working at the AEDC for 55 years, Dr. Baker tells us that coming into work every day is still exciting. And he also tells us that there’s plenty to look forward to.
“Of course, we’re working toward going to the moon again. AEDC is heavily involved in that program just like we were in the Apollo Program. And so, we’re looking forward to going to the moon, they’re saying 2024. Then I’d like to see us go on to mars later after that.”