As the chief engineer for Orion’s Launch Abort Motor for Exploration Flight Test-1, I find it truly exciting and rewarding to work on a cutting-edge development project and constantly doing new and exciting things. I lead the technical effort for the development, design and fabrication of the abort motor. We took NASA’s requirements and figured out how to build an extremely complicated, high per…formance rocket motor that works every time. This system is designed to save the astronauts’ lives in the event of an emergency on the launch pad or during Orion’s ascent into space.
The coolest part of my job is seeing the effort of many pulling together to produce an advanced rocket motor that performs the way NASA needs it to. If you missed our first launch abort system flight test in 2010 – you can check it out on You Tube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JLdP-L7D58g
. Watching that system perform flawlessly above the vast New Mexico desert was the most incredible experience of my career.
Growing up in Santa Clara, California, I was fascinated by the stars and planets because we were just entering the age of manned space exploration. I took the initiative to learn the names of the major stars and constellations and identify them in the night sky. I also have vivid memories of watching the early Mercury launches on a small, black-and-white TV set with an antenna wire hooked up to an aluminum window frame. Although Buck Rogers the original Star Trek and Lost in Space may have been all the rage at that time, watching real spaceships on real missions was unbelievably exciting to me.
My advice to anyone pursuing a career similar to mine would be to get excited about math and science and put all your energy into getting a good education. I received a BS in Chemical Engineering from Brigham Young University and spent four years in the United States Army as a combat engineer officer before beginning my career with ATK.
Learn to be a leader, not a follower.
ATK employees and family members at ATK’s Magna, Utah facility celebrated the completion and imminent delivery of the James Webb Space Telescope Primary Mirror Backplane Support Structures (PMBSS) August 15 with an event that included tours of the facility where the telescope was made and several guest speakers. Earlier in the day the Salt Lake City radio station KUER aired a story about the Magna facility’s contribution to the Webb Telescope program.
NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden, center, joins ATK employees next to an UltraFlex™ solar array of the same design as the array flown on the Mars Phoenix Lander mission.
Pictured L to R: Alan Jones, Jim Spink, Charlie Bolden, Jennifer Bowman, Ken Steele
ATK exhibited its advanced solar array technologies at NASA Tech Day on the Hill in Washington, D.C. July 23. The ATK display highlighted technology advancements necessary to optimize the disk-shaped UltraFlex™ solar array for NASA’s Exploration Mission. ATK also featured a full-size, seven-foot diameter hardware unit made of ultra-lightweight materials that provide high strength and stiffness as well as compact stowage volume. The display was the same design as the array flown on the Mars Phoenix Lander mission. A scaled-up version of UltraFlex, named MegaFlex, represents a key enabling technology for solar electric propulsion (SEP), which is essential for future science, exploration and human missions into deep space.
Two future astronauts stopped by ATK’s booth at the grand opening of the Space Shuttle Atlantis display Saturday, June 29.
It was an exciting weekend at the Kennedy Space Center’s Visitor Complex June 28-30, as the new Atlantis exhibit was unveiled.
A VIP program and exhibit viewing was held Friday night, and many astronauts who flew on Atlantis were on hand for that event, as well as Saturday morning for the official ribbon-cutting. ATK executives and former astronauts Charlie Precourt and Brian Duffy were in attendance for the activities, and were among astronauts honored at the event.
NASA and Space Launch System partners interacted with guests of the Visitor Complex throughout the weekend, sharing exciting information about SLS progress and upcoming milestones.
ATK representatives handed out paper SLS rocket models, fact sheets, rocket scientist bumper stickers and SLS book marks to interested guests.
NiCarla Friend, Kay Anderson and Jan Kunzler staffed ATK’s SLS booth near the Orion capsule display during the Atlantis ribbon-cutting event.
Space Shuttle Atlantis on display at the KSC Visitor Complex.