NASA Directors and Astronaut in Waterloo - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

NASA Directors and Astronaut in Waterloo

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

High school and middle school students toured the Doerfer Wheelift Headquarters in Waterloo on Wednesday, where their work is having a big impact on NASA.

"NASA has indicated that they've started interviewing some of the universities in Iowa now as a result of what they found in the state, so it's been pretty fun to be on the leading edge of that," says Doerfer CEO David Takes.

It's all because of the "Wheelift" transporter, made right here in Iowa. Wheelift has been manufacturing the transporters for NASA since 2012.

"We make transporters that assemble NASA's new rockets which are the deep space program that ultimately, we think will take humans to Mars one day," Takes says.

Astronaut James "Vegas" Kelly is also from Iowa and was there.

"I earned that nickname from being lucky in poker, " he says.

He was a pilot on two space shuttle missions.

"During the 1969 moon landing, my father showed me the moon when people were walking on it and that's kind of what got me started and I was a big science fiction fan. Since I was five I always wanted to do this job and when I finally got qualified to do it I applied and got lucky," Kelly said.

A great example for young students, if you dream it you can do it.

Cedar Falls High School student Mary Radke says, "I've had the chance to talk to a couple NASA representatives and I'm not exactly sure what I want to go in to so it's cool to meet those people and think I can do this."

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