Apollo 15: An all-Michigan crew.Apollo 15 Flown University of Michigan Flag and Aerospace Engineer Lapel Pin in Framed Display, Originally Presented to U of M Professor of Aerospace Engineering Wilbur C. Nelson, Signed and Certified. A 6.25" x 4.375" cloth U of M flag bearing the "Artes, Scientia, Veritas" motto (Arts, Knowledge, Truth) and 1817 founding date. It is mounted to a 19.5" x 15.5" (sight size) matboard along with a 9.75" x 7.75" color photo of Jim Irwin on the lunar surface and a 0.5" diameter "University of Michigan Aerospace Engineer" lapel pin bearing images of an early airplane and a spacecraft orbiting the earth. Beneath the photo, Al Worden has written: "To Wilbur C. Nelson with Warmest Personal Regards/ From the Crew of Apollo 15 and with Great/ Appreciation for your Friendship and Support". Signed beneath by the crew: "Dave Scott", "Al Worden", and "Jim Irwin". Beneath the flag is a printed label: "This flag carried aboard Apollo 15 during the first extended scientific exploration of the moon, July 26-August 7, 1971." The lapel pin is attached to a card with the following statement: "This is to certify that the Engraved Aerospace Engineering lapel pin presented to Wilbur C. Nelson was carried aboard the Command Module 'Endeavour' during the Apollo 15 flight to the moon 26 July - 7 August 1971" This is also signed by the crew: "David R. Scott", "Alfred M. Worden", and "James B. Irwin". Framed to an overall 22.5" x 18.5". A wonderful display piece for a proud Wolverine's wall. Excellent condition, not faded as is often seen with pieces from this period.
The U of M Aerospace department has certainly had a major impact on the American space program. Two early missions flew all-Michigan crews: Gemini 4 and Apollo 15. Professor Nelson had an important influence on his students. When Ed White came to the campus to speak after his landmark first American spacewalk, he described his observations as "just what Professor Nelson always said they would be." For more information on the career of Wilbur C. Nelson at the University of Michigan and his influence on the space program, please see our website.
From the University of Michigan website, upon his retirement in 1977:
Wilbur C. Nelson, Professor of Aerospace Engineering, has retired from active faculty status as of December 31, 1977, after a very productive career in teaching, research, and administration.
A native of Flint, Michigan, Professor Nelson did his undergraduate work in aeronautical engineering at The University of Michigan and graduate work both at the California Institute of Technology and The University of Michigan.
During the period from 1935 to 1940 Professor Nelson worked at the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation in Burbank, California, the Civil Areonautics Administration in Washington, D.C., and Engineering Projects, Inc., Dayton, Ohio. He started his teaching career in 1940 at Iowa State College as an assistant professor of aeronautical engineering. In 1942 he was promoted to professor and chairman of the department. He joined the Department of Aeronautical Engineering at The University of Michigan as a professor in 1946 and served as chairman of the department (now called Aerospace Engineering) from 1953-68. It was under Professor Nelson's leadership that the department experienced its greatest growth.
Professor Nelson's work in guided missiles and astronauts started in World War II during the time he was on leave at The John Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory as a project supervisor. In 1946-47 he served as project engineer in charge of the first U.S. anti-missile defense program, Project WIZARD, at The University of Michigan. He has been a member of the NATO Advisory Group for Aeronautical Research and Development since 1953, and has served as advisor to the Army, Air Force, and National Aeronautics and Space Administration. He has also been a consultant to many companies and other governmental activities.
Six of the Apollo astronauts were graduates of Professor Nelson's department and he had most of them as students. In recent years he has been especially well recognized for his outstanding senior design course on space systems.
The Regents now salute this distinguished educator by naming him Professor Emeritus of Aerospace Engineering.
Regents' Proceedings, May 1978, page 1117
From the University of Michigan website, from the Michigan Alumnus 32 (1966):
There was a lot of excitement on campus about a year ago, when Astronauts White and McDivitt returned to the campus following their Gemini-4 space flight and space walk. One of the memorable events of their day was a luncheon at which Major White described his spacewalk. Describing his observations, he commented that they had been "just what Professor Nelson always said they would be."
Professor Nelson has perhaps the world's record for having taught American astronauts during their college days. Six of the men now in the astronaut program hold degrees from the University of Michigan department of aerospace engineering, which Professor Nelson has headed since 1953. Another graduate of the department designed the space gun which Major White used on his famous venture, and many other former students are employed by NASA and by the various industries which support the space program. In the thirteen years since he was named chairman, Professor Nelson's department has had three names.
Each change - from aeronautical engineering to aeronautical and astronautical engineering to aerospace engineering - has been indicative of the tremendous scientific advances made in this field of study. And one of the key figures in those advances has been Wilbur C. Nelson, who is himself a graduate of The University of Michigan as well as one of its distinguished teachers.
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