When asked about the new Space Science major at West Point, which will graduate its first cohort of cadets in the spring of 2020, Lieutenant Colonel Diana Loucks, an Academy Professor and the Director of the Space and Missile Defense Command Research and Analysis Center in the Department of Physics and Nuclear Engineering (PaNE), begins by saying, “Space has always been a part of West Point.” She is absolutely right.
Between the classes of 1950 to 1998, the Academy has produced 21 astronauts, including Colonel Drew Morgan ’98 MD, who is currently serving aboard the International Space Station. Dozens of other graduates from numerous West Point classes—such as Edmund O’Conner ’43JUN, Raymond Clark ’45, Henry Clements ’53 and Alfred Davidson III ’57—have gone on to work for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), providing services and ground support for U.S. space missions. And even a century before space flight, West Point was an important part of research involving space: William H.C. Bartlett, Class of 1826, Professor of Natural and Experimental Philosophy at the U.S. Military Academy, for example, built the first observatory at West Point in 1841 and used its equipment to perceive the orbit of the Comet of 1843 and photograph, for the first time in history, a partial solar eclipse on May 26, 1854. Full story.