Alumni Highlight - Where Are They Now?

April 30, 2024


Name: 1Lt Hunter Rausch
Graduating Class: Spring 2021 
Undergrad: Mechanical Engineering Job: 
62E (Developmental Engineer) Masters: Astronautical Engineering

My first assignment was in LA where I was a Space Force Responsible Engineer (SFRE) on the structures team for Falcon launch vehicles. I led a team that was responsible for all the mechanisms on Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets. We worked on everything from the launch pad clamps that hold the rocket down before T0, to the deployment hardware that eventually releases the spacecraft once in orbit. If you’ve ever seen a space movie where there are rows and rows of computers and engineers monitoring every bit of data in the lead up to a launch, I was the engineer at one of those stations. During my time there I was part of the launch campaigns for NROL-87, NROL-85, USSF-44, USSF-67, and GPS3-6. After my last launch campaign, I was moved to a 6-month assignment as the Directors Action Group(DAG) Deputy. While I didn’t get to do nearly as much rocket science in that position, I did regularly send briefs to Congress with updates on the state of the launch fleet.

After 2 years in LA, I PCSed to Wright-Patterson AFB to start a graduate program in Astronautical Engineering at the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT). I am currently halfway through my program and writing a thesis on the force structuring of space systems to take advantage of technologies like on-orbit refueling and serviceable payloads. In March of 2025, I’ll be headed to the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Space Vehicles Directorate to work in a small satellite program office.


The advice I would have for cadets is to have some grace with yourself and keep the motivation strong when you get to your first unit. It’s going to take longer than you want to feel like you are contributing to the organization rather than slowing it down, but that’s the point of being a butter bar. Ask questions and seek to understand not just your organization, but every organization it interacts with. Those interactions are where the most meaningful work happens. My favorite memories of being a cadet were spending a week with NROTC as part of a cadet exchange, and seeing the flight of FTPs I had the privilege of being flight commander for eventually take ownership of the Det.