Dr. Francis Wessling, Jr.

Professor Emeritus, MAE


5000 Technology Drive NW
Olin B. King Technology Hall
Room N270
Huntsville, AL 35899
Campus Map



Dr. Wessling has experience with several experiments flown on the United States Space Transportation System (STS or Space Shuttle). This includes OAST-2 which was a cosmic ray experiment he and his team designed to hold stacks of photographic film and metal plates in the payload bay of STS 62. He designed an experimental apparatus operated by Senator John Glenn on STS 95 which grew biological samples in low gravity. He led a team that designed a passive means (LoTEC) for carrying biological samples at a temperature of 277 Kelvin to the STS or the International Space Station He assisted many other researchers on their experimental apparatus and protocols. These flew on the U. S. STS and also on the Soviet Union Mir Space Station. He was the project manager on several research rockets that were launched from the White Sands Missile Range (WSMR). These rockets were designed to provide several minutes of low gravity time for materials studies. The first rocket launched from WSMR under his direction received the first commercial launch license granted by the United States. He was also a project manager or technical team member for rockets launched from the Patrick Air Force Base in Florida, and from the Goddard Space Flight Facility in Virginia. He served as chair of the department from 1999 to 2003 and again in 2007. He was assistant director of the Consortium for Materials Development in Space at The University of Alabama in Huntsville from 1985 to 1999. Dr. Wessling has numerous publications and holds four patents. He is a registered professional engineer in the State of Alabama.

Curriculum Vitae


  • Ph.D., Mechanical Engineering, University of Minnesota, 1968
  • M.S., Mechanical Engineering, The University of New Mexico, 1963
  • B.S., Mechanical Engineering, Washington University, (St. Louis, Mo.), 1961

Honors & Awards

  • Outstanding Senior Professor, College of Engineering, 2008


  • Design of Apparatus for use in Low Gravity
  • Heat Transfer, Energy Conservation, Energy Storage
  • Materials Studies in Low Gravity

Recent Publications

  • Eric D. Becnel, Francis C. Wessling, Surface Tension Effects on Microgravity Boiling, 62nd International Astronautical Congress, paper number: IAC -11-A2.2.10, October 3 – 7, 2011.
  • Francis C Wessling Jr, James M Blackwood: Phase change material for temperature control and material storage. Patent No. US 7926296, April 19, 2011.
  • J. M. Blackwood, F. C. Wessling, "Design of Thermal Initial and Boundary Conditions to Control The Expansion of Water Based Phase Change Material on Low Gravity" Numerical Heat Transfer, Part A, 49:525-542, 2006.
  • F. C. Wessling, J. J. Swain, "Parameter Estimation of Low Temperature Low Energy Carrier (LoTEC ©) Chapter 19 Heat Transfer Calculations edited by M Kutz. Pps. 19.1 – 19.9, McGraw Hill, 2006.
  • F. C. Wessling, "Transient Analysis of Low Temperature, Low Energy Carrier (LoTEC © ) Chapter 20 Heat Transfer Calculations edited by M Kutz. Pps. 20.1 – 20.13, McGraw Hill, 2006.
  • S. Brantschen, R. Banish, F. Wessling, "Determination of Thermal Diffusivity in a Disk Shaped Sample using Edge Heating Applications to Stainless Steel" Review of Scientific Instruments Volume 75, Number 9 September 2004.
  • F. C. Wessling, M. D. Moser, J. M. Blackwood, " Subtle Issues in the Measurement of the Thermal Conductivity of Vacuum Insulation Panels" American Society of Mechanical Engineers Journal of Heat Transfer, pps 155 – 160 Volume 126, April 2004.