Aerospace engineering grad Andrew Rader currently leads a team at SpaceX tasked with coordinating numerous aspects of a multi-satellite space mission launch on the company’s Falcon Heavy rocket. Ingenious - Winter 2018 7 Aerospace Grad Andrew Rader Reaches for the Stars Andrew Rader (BEng/03, MASc/05) first experienced something he built taking to the skies during his final year in Carleton’s Aerospace Engineering program as part of a fourth year Capstone project to design, build and fly an uninhabited aerial vehicle (UAV). Now, as a Mission Manager at SpaceX, Rader is proving that the sky doesn’t always have to be the limit. Working out of the aerospace leader’s Hawthorne, California headquarters, he currently leads a team that coordinates all technical and programmatic aspects involved in launching a multi-satellite space mission on the company’s reusable Falcon Heavy rocket. It may seem like one giant leap for Rader, who now finds himself on the cutting edge of space technology, but he’s quick to point out that, as is the case with many, his journey began with one small step. “It all started when I was young and discovered that I really liked building things,” he says. “I used to spend days in my room assembling giant fleets of vehicles with LEGO and absorbing books on how machines worked.” Having been introduced to aviation at an early age, Rader earned his pilot’s license at 17. After completing his undergraduate degree, he would continue his studies at Carleton with a Master of Applied Science in Aerospace Engineering, before eventually pursuing a PhD in Aeronautics/Astronautics Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he focused in part on the wellbeing of astronauts. “My projects tended to revolve around keeping humans healthy in extraterrestrial environments,” he explains. “There are so many things to take into account when designing space suits for the Moon and Mars, such as how balance is impacted by the different gravitational cues in space.” In 2013, Rader took part in the Discovery Channel’s Canada’s Greatest Know-It-All reality series, ultimately winning the competition and the title of “Canada’s Greatest Know-It-All”. He has also been in the running for two separate Canadian astronaut selection campaigns and hopes to one day go to space and even walk on Mars. “Becoming an astronaut is something that I will continue to strive towards,” he says. “It would be an incredible privilege to participate in scientific discovery, observe our planet from orbit, and share my sense of wonder with the people of our world.” Rader also looks to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers as the author of a series of illustrated children’s books focusing on space exploration, such as Mars Rover Rescue, Mc Longneck’s Epic Space Adventure and the soon to be released Rocket Science, an aerospace engineering manual aimed at children ages 6-10. Despite the title of his upcoming book, Rader notes that it really isn’t rocket science when it comes to getting kids interested in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). “The majority of people establish their interests at a very young age and these tend to stay with us throughout our lives,” he says. “All it takes to spark tomorrow’s explorers is to show them a glimpse of where STEM can take them. Their imaginations will lead them the rest of the way.” Photo: Ringo Chiu