When the United States took aviation into space, Norwich was there. Norwich-trained engineers served on crews designing the Apollo spacecraft as well as the Space Shuttles in later decades.
In 1969, when Apollo 11 returned to Earth, a Norwich graduate was one of the first to handle the extraterrestrial rocks. Rudy Treml (formerly Rudolph E. Beinstein), Class of 1962, was an Army scientist on assignment at the NASA Manned Spacecraft Center in Clearlake City, Texas, near Houston. His team worked in the Lunar Receiving Laboratory that had been set up to quarantine and process the returning astronauts and the materials they recovered from the moon’s surface.
Since no one knew quite what to expect once Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin returned from the lunar environment for the first time, strict isolation precautions were being taken. Samples of moon rocks and other material had been brought back in Return Sample Containers. The contents were passed from the astronauts to the NASA team in an isolation chamber between the crew quarters and the processing lab. Treml was part of that volunteer team that received the first objects brought to Earth from another celestial body as they were passed through the isolation chamber by astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.
After his work at NASA, Treml went on to a career in the petroleum industry, and retired from Chevron/Texaco in 2002. Though an accomplished scientist, one of his fondest memories of Norwich was performing a Mendelssohn piano concerto with the regimental band in 1959. He told the story of his musical upbringing and that special moment in the Summer 2016 Norwich Record.
Treml met his wife, Judy, while working at NASA. While Rudy was handling moon rocks, Judy was working as a secretary to the astronauts’ team of physicians. The two now live in Florida. In addition to volunteering for the Chevron Retirees Association Chapter, the American Legion, and the Florida FairTax Educational Association, Treml has found time to dress as George Washington in Eustis, Florida’s annual GeorgeFest parade.
Treml has a habit of being in the right place at the right time, and sometimes, the wrong place and the wrong time. In addition to his involvement in the moon landing, he served as foreman of the jury in Ted Bundy’s trial in 1979.
Partially adapted from “The Sky’s the Limit: NU’s Aeronautics Pioneers” by Curtis Ostler with additional reporting by Jacque Day, from the Winter 2014 Norwich Record.