Like many of our volunteer docents, Joe Santa spent many years working in the space industry. After receiving a bachelor’s and master’s degree in aeronautical engineering from the University of Michigan, he began working on the Apollo program in the 1960’s where he helped design the third stage (Saturn S-IVB) of the Apollo launch vehicle. He spent 16 years with McDonnell Douglas working on related space vehicle studies. He next joined Thompson Ramo Woodridge (TRW) and worked in the system area related to battle management and various command & control systems. During the ‘80s, he worked at two different NORAD centers. During his last three years before retirement, he was employed with The Boeing Company where he worked on a NASA space architecture study that looked at going back to the moon.
Since retirement, he has spent time as a consultant and as an adjunct professor teaching calculus and differential equations at Pikes Peak Community College. Originally from the state of Michigan, Joe has worked around the country including California and Colorado, returning to Colorado in 2000.
Now, Joe fills his time as a volunteer docent at the Space Foundation Discovery Center. He has volunteered in the Discovery Center since it opened its doors in October of 2012. He enjoys seeing all the kids that come through and hopes to inspire and motivate them to get excited about space, much like his generation was. One of his favorite things about working in the Discovery Center is giving presentations on Science On a Sphere®; in particular he likes working with the astronomy-related datasets. He also has an affinity for the launch-related exhibits since he spent 18 years of his career working specifically with launch vehicles.
He encourages anyone who can to volunteer with the Space Foundation. He says it’s very interesting and motivating to be able to interact with children and to answer their questions about space. He also says it’s great to be able to walk around the gallery and just “be” with space artifacts.
Sharing a passion for space with the next generation is just one of the many benefits of volunteering with the Space Foundation.