OCEAN ISLE BEACH, NC (WBTW) – A former NASA engineer reflects on his time working for NASA, as the country celebrates the 50th anniversary of man’s first steps on the moon.
Roy Chipley has local ties to Florence and resides in Ocean Isle Beach, NC.
14 years after Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, Chipley started his career with the NASA space shuttle program.
The program was spearheaded after Apollo 11’s successful landing.
“My group was in charge of everything that flew in the payload bay on the space shuttle. So, I was technically called a payload engineer,” said Chipley.
The job held a lot of responsibility, while sending both satellites and astronauts into space.
January 28, 1986 is a day Chipley says is burned in his memory.
It was the day the Challenger space shuttle broke apart shortly after launching killing seven crew members, including Ron McNair of Lake City.
“It’s burned forever in my memory as we watched seven astronauts perish and there’s a sense of responsibility in that,” said Chipley.
Chipley and his team worked tirelessly to overcome the great loss. He says his proudest moment was returning to flight.
“I felt elated. I know I cried right along with many, many others. It was a very joyous day to pull back through the defeat that we all felt,” said Chipley.
Space technology has advanced leaps and bounds since the landing of Apollo 11.
A smartphone has a bigger processor than Apollo 11.
“You probably used GPS to find me today. At one time that was only used for the military,” said Chipley.
Chipley hope for the future of NASA is to eventually launch manned missions again.
“I do believe the manned program for America needs to be as strong as it once was. Where we do not need to rely on a foreign country to place our astronauts in orbit,” said Chipley.