UNI alumni have a hand in space exploration

University of Northern Iowa alumnus David Takes ('81) and his company, Doerfer Companies, received a multi-year contract with the National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA) to provide the main assembly and material handling transporters for NASA's new Space Launch System (SLS). Takes is Doerfer's president and CEO; he also serves on UNI's Foundation Board and chairs its Technology Transfer Section.

Doerfer event
UNI alumnus and president of Doerfer Companies David Takes speaks in front of a crowd during the Doerfer/NASA contract award event.

A group of UNI alumni designed and created the transporters as part of Doerfer's Wheelift Division, which operates primarily from Doerfer's facility in Waterloo.

SLS is NASA's next heavy-lift launch vehicle, which will provide an entirely new capability for science and human exploration beyond Earth's orbit. The Doerfer team designed transporters that will carry the core stage rocket segments through full assembly, engine test and launch preparation. The transporters will eventually travel with the 240-foot assembled core stage rocket on a barge as it makes its way to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida for launch.

NASA engineers from the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., traveled to the Waterloo Doerfer facility on Dec. 12 to present the contract award and participate in demonstrations of the transporters. A public open house will be scheduled for 2014.

For more information about Doerfer's Wheelift Division and the NASA transporters, visit www.wheelift.com. For more information about NASA's new Space Launch System, visit www.nasa.gov/exploration/systems/sls/.

Doerfer event
Doerfer's transporters will provide the main assembly and material handling for NASA's new Space Launch System.