Former NASA Scientist in Longview

Retired NASA scientist and Longview native Dave Alexander was part of the NASA manned space program for 32 years. He began when the Mercury Program was ending in the early 60's and worked through Gemini, Apollo, Sky-Lab and the Shuttle programs.

His job was mapping mathematics algorithms for leaving and entering the Earth's atmosphere. He's no stranger to crisis, he was one of the men who helped bring back Apollo 13, which after an explosion on board, looked as if it might never return. But Alexander's calculations on orbit was critical to saving the mission and the lives of three astronauts.

The walls of his Longview home are decorated with pictures and keepsakes from NASA, many signed by the astronauts. Alexander says the tragedy of Columbia happened at what he considers the most dangerous part of space travel, re-entry. But he remains confident that through these tragic events, the race to explore space will go on, through the people who dedicate their lives to it.

Bob Hallmark, reporting.