than cloud 9: alumnus Rex Walheim flies Cal flag in space
31 May 2002
Diane Ainsworth, Public Affairs
blue-and-gold pennant flew higher than a flagpole, higher
than a kite, and definitely higher than cloud 9 last month.
Rex Walheim, an electrical engineer and NASA mission specialist,
unfurled the blue-and-gold school flag inside the Space
Shuttle "Atlantis," 122 nautical miles above
Earth's surface. Next to him was fellow astronaut Steve
Smith, a red-and-gold flag-waving Stanford University
The two were part of a 10-day, 4.5-million-mile mission,
April 8-19, designed to deliver additional power and data
communications capabilities to the orbiting International
Walheim, 39, participated in the first two space walks
of his career, using his electrical engineering skills
to help install and connect a giant metal-and-electronics
structure to one platform of the space station.
bolted down the new segment and then provided power and
data connections," he said upon his return to Earth.
The girder-like truss is considered the "backbone"
of an eventual cross-beam that will stretch more than
350 feet from tip-to-tip and support an acre of solar
panels and giant cooling radiators.
Walheim called the space walks "a privilege,"
but admitted that the Cal pennant also came in handy.
partner, Steve Smith, was from Stanford, so it was very
fortunate that I had the Cal pennant along with me,"
Walheim joked. Mission specialist Ellen Ochoa, another
Stanford graduate, was also part of the six-member Atlantis
On the morning of his second space walk, Walheim was awakened
in the typical NASA fashion with a song - in this case,
the Cal fight song, played by UC Berkeley's band. They
also played "All Right Now," performed by Stanford's
band. No one is saying which song was broadcast from NASA's
Mission Control Center in Houston first.
Hailing from San Carlos, Calif., Walheim is a lieutenant
colonel in the U.S. Air Force. He received a bachelor
of science degree in mechanical engineering from Berkeley
in 1984 and was named a Berkeley distinguished graduate
by the Reserve Officers Training Corps.
Stationed at Johnson Space Center's astronaut training
facility in Houston, Texas, Walheim has logged more than
259 hours in space, including just over 14 hours of extravehicular
activity, since earning his astronaut wings.