Meet the Crew: Erik Anderson, XCOR Senior Engineer

11-12-08_flight-weight-nose-6116Bryan Campen: What are you doing in this shot, and what are you thinking?

Erik Anderson: I’m thinking, “man, that was a lot of sanding.” But what I’m doing there is finishing up the first (flight!) nose cap for Lynx, just trimming up the edge that mates with the vehicle. So I was really a lot happier than I look in that shot.

BC: What’s your title? What do you do at XCOR?

EA: Senior Engineer, so that means a little of everything: avionics, pilot interfaces, and let’s see, I’m in the electrical shop right now, and of course the ULA program. Whatever needs doing.

BC: And you were a C-130 pilot?

EA: Yep for 16 years.

BC: How many years have you been at XCOR?

EA: Three and a half. I started as the composites technician, though Senior Engineer was the title.

BC: What were you doing before XCOR?

EA: I was a Second Lieutenant in the Air Force, Delta 2 Engineer in the Delta 2 program, based in Los Angeles. Launched GPS satellites for the Air Force. I was an intern with the Aerospace Corp, the federally funded R&D center the Air Force keeps onhand. Trajectory analysis and vehicle design for advanced concepts. Sixteen years driving a Herc, of course, four operational tours in Arkansas, Japan and Alaska.

BC: Family?

EA: I have a saintly wife and two adorable kids–a girl who’s seven and a boy, nine. The boy wants to be a spaceship pilot when he grows up and the girl wants to be a princess.

We’ve got it all covered.

BC: What are you reading right now?


EA: Just finished The Martian by Andy Weir, it is an awesome book. It’s an Amazon Indie special from an author nobody heard of before now. It’s excellent, about a guy who through a complete accident is believed dead and left behind after an early Mars landing. His survival is a real challenge and it’s a very gripping story.

BC: What’s your favorite space-themed movie?

EA: Apollo 13.

BC: Ok, but what’s your favorite movie?

EA: Still Apollo 13!

BC: Do you have a favorite saying?

EA: No I really don’t. I like ‘em all. Sometimes I’ll fasten on one, then it gets overused and I move on from it.

BC: Will you fly on Lynx?

EA: [Laughter] Several times a day. You can put that down.

BC: I see you flying to and from work sometimes.

Erik on the afternoon commute

Erik in the XCOR parking lot

EA: Occasionally I commute on my Long EZ. I built it myself, it’s a Mojave-designed airplane (designed by Burt Rutan).

I started at XCOR in the composite shop on the strength of building that airplane.

Mojave is the sort of place where you can taxi-up with your resume.