(WHNT) - Written among the stars, you might well find David Christensen's name. Here on Earth, he's helping humans inch closer to the heavens.
His home sports rooms full of artifacts, trinkets, and records of space flight. It reflects the fervor of its owner.
Christensen says, "I love the space program. I guess it was my calling. I just fit right in to it naturally, so it's hard to get out of something you really enjoy doing."
You may have guessed it took Christensen a long career to amass his collection. He's been at it since space flight felt more like science fiction, "I was drafted in the Army in 1953. I was 21, and then I came here in '56. I was 25, and I was already working with the Von Braun team at that age on projects. So I got started at a pretty early age."
Over the years, he's picked up a few keepsakes, but most of what he's gathered, can't be seen.
He says, "I do a lot of work in what we call 'Lessons Learned' over the years putting on short courses for the young engineers to tell them things to avoid, good things to do, bad things not to do."
Christensen does this kind of thing a lot - consulting, advising. He says he's retired three times, but somehow, he always finds himself tackling some new mystery of the universe, "My wife and I thought it'd be nice to go fishing after I retired. She likes to fish, and I used to fish a lot. We haven't been fishing yet."
As long as Christensen can get his hands on technical readouts, it seems unlikely he'll trade them for fishing reels.
But how can anyone keep their nose to the grindstone for this long?
Dr. Shivani Malhotra has an idea, "From the very beginning if you're involved in something that you like and you have a purpose in your life, it's going to make your life easier, and you'll probably age gracefully."
So with passion comes health - it explains a lot about David Christensen.
Dr. Malhotra explains, "People who strongly have a purpose in their life, they have less stress related diseases. It is also found they are more satisfied with their health."
Passion converts age into grace, like a dedicated engineer parsing space with no regard for time.
As Dr. Malhotra flips through her work for the day, she feels in her heart what her studies already taught her, "I love my work. It's like my passion. So probably I'll keep working. I would not like to retire."
And that love can span all fields.
"It keeps me going," says Christensen.
It can conquer time, and maybe it'll conquer space too.
For now, David Christensen sticks to the line he's been using for years, "We're hoping here soon that we'll have some time to do some fishing."
But you have to wonder if his sea of tranquility will remain a distant horizon.