Former Hecla engineer optimistic with growing space curiosity

Published: Jul. 28, 2021 at 6:49 PM CDT
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ABERDEEN, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - At his home in Hecla, Randy Pfutzenreuter is building up his collection of space memorabilia. Part of that includes the mission he worked on himself, noting the tension in the air at the start of the space age.

“10 years, we’re supposed to be on the Moon. We hadn’t even put a man in space yet when that was announced. We moved fast and hard, it was really something.” said former aerospace design engineer Pfutzenreuter.

Pfutzenreuter would help build scientific equipment for the Apollo 15 mission, and helped put together equipment for the Mars Pathfinder and Sojourner Rover. And back then, the budget was tight and the room for error was tighter.

“It was true that if we were working on something, my part isn’t going to fail. I know that my part is going to be good, it’s not going to fail in space. And that was the attitude that we had to have.”

However the recent launches of private space companies has Pfutzenreuter excited, noting that now it will take much less time to move onto more accomplishments in space.

“With the technology now, the computers, and the telescopes even. We can see more deeply into space.”

He also said the buzz created by the launches is adding to a growing feeling of getting back to space as possible, helping inspire future generations.

“They say that the first person that’s going to step on Mars is in the 5th grade, so.”

While Pfutzenreuter said that the recent launches aren’t with the same scientific mindset that many had in the early space age, he knows it was all built off of the work that began over a half century ago.

“These guys now going to space, they’re standing on the shoulders of the giants. The men, the astronauts and the training they went through.”

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