Obituary: Steven Thomas Mustaikis II, formerly of Ludington

May 18, 2023

Steve Mustaikis

Obituary: Steven Thomas Mustaikis II, formerly of Ludington

Sept. 7, 1972 – May 9, 2023

Steven Thomas Mustaikis II, loving husband, father, son and brother, died on Tuesday, May 9, 2023, at the age of 50. Steve’s final act was to give the gift of life through organ and tissue donation.

Steve grew up in Ludington and by fourth grade he knew he wanted to be an engineer. He loved flying and began work on his pilot’s license in high school. As a teen he went to Space Camp twice, and after graduating from high school returned to Huntsville, Alabama to attend the University of Alabama in Huntsville to pursue a degree in mechanical and aerospace engineering. While in college he rowed crew, worked on a gas can experiment that flew on the Space Shuttle, had a job on Redstone Arsenal, and still found time to fall in love with Carrie, who would become his wife.

Steve graduated in the winter of 1995 and took a job in California. He was there about a year and decided California was not for him, and he returned to Huntsville.  These years in Huntsville were filled with adventure, opportunity, and special moments. Steve and Carrie married in 1997. He finished his pilot’s license, built a plane with a friend, and he and Carrie flew on several adventures out west. He took ballroom dance lessons because his wife loved to dance. He worked behind the scenes on Burt Rutan’s SpaceShipOne and continued to grow his career at ATK.

Shortly after his first son was born, Steve left his corporate job at ATK and began working at a friend’s startup rocket company, Orion Propulsion, Inc. He loved it, especially the hands-on engineering and testing without all the red-tape of a big company. He was an active member of HAL5 and had “rocket night” in his garage for years. By then he had a second son, and many of the rocket guys were like family. Eventually Dynetics, Inc. would purchase Orion Propulsion, Inc., and Steve was able to tackle bigger and more varied engineering projects. Most recently he was working on the Human Landing System for Dynetics, Inc., and was not so patiently awaiting NASA’s decision on the winning moon lander proposal later this year.

Steve loved his family with all his heart. He coached the kids’ hockey teams and would spend hours reviewing videos of games so he could try and help the team get better. Whatever the kids were interested in, he would take an interest in as well. He had never played hockey as a kid; but began playing as an adult because of the kids. As the kids grew up and their interests expanded to band, computer programming, and e-sports, he was always there supporting them. He continued to fly and flew the family on so many adventures, from Yellowstone to Key West, the Grand Canyon to Boston, and everywhere in between. He was the foundation of the family.

Steve was a genuinely good guy. He didn’t believe in failure and simply saw it as part of the learning process. He wasn’t afraid to take risks and go after what he wanted in life. He asked questions and loved to learn everything, and he was equally happy to teach and share his knowledge with anyone who wanted to learn. Honest to a fault, he would tell you the truth, and he wasn’t going to sugarcoat it. You could always count on him to lend a hand and to try and solve your problem. He lived a full and vibrant life full of friends and companions. He loved his family and friends, and they loved him.

Steven will be greatly missed by his wife of 25 years, Carrie Alderfer; his children, Rigel and Carson; his parents, Steven Mustaikis and Nancy (Hilton) Mustaikis; his sister, Heather (Mustaikis) Hendrickson and her family; Carrie’s parents, siblings and their families; and many aunts, uncles, and cousins.

Family and friends are welcome to attend a Celebration of Life service on June 3 at Monte Sano United Methodist Church, 601 Monte Sano Blvd, Huntsville, Alabama. Visitation begins at 1 p.m. and the service begins at 2 p.m. with a reception immediately following. A Celebration of Life will be held for Steve in Michigan at a later date this summer.

In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to the UAH Last Mile Fund for the College of Engineering, the North Alabama Hockey Association’s Youth House League, or the U.S. Space & Rocket Center Education Foundation. 

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