NASA Space Exploration Systems

I spent ten years working on the development of a variety of human exploration systems that would eventually become the NASA Orion crew exploration vehicle and the NASA Space Launch System heavy lift rocket.

NASA Orion with ATV Service Module. Image Credit NASA

NASA Orion with ATV Service Module. Image Credit NASA

NASA Space Launch System. Image Credit NASA

NASA Space Launch System. Image Credit NASA

Starting with working with NASA MSFC and NASA ARC on Integrated Vehicle Health Management, where I managed the development of the open source, cross-platform IVHM (IVHM) System Management Environment tool to facilitate design & integration of health management technology.

When 2GRLV (Second Generation Reusable Launch Vehicle) morphed into Orbital Space Plane (NASA MSFC) following the loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia in 2003, I performed systems integration between Avionics, Landing Systems, and Launch Vehicle Integration of Orbital Space Plane and conducted system-level trades for vehicle outer mold line and architecture. These system-level trades would set the baseline for the selection of a capsule configuration for the post-Space Shuttle human exploration systems.

2004 saw the announcement of the Vision for Space Exploration by the White House, a program that would eventually become Constellation. Constellation included the Crew Exploration Vehicle (now called Orion), the Ares Shuttle-Derived Launch Vehicles (now called Space Launch System), and additional future exploration systems including Landers, Surface Systems, and interplanetary vehicles.

One of the first contracts for Constellation was for Concept Exploration & Refinement (CE&R) of the Orion spacecraft and the rest of the architecture. I led the Northrop Grumman team in concept exploration and refinement of Orion, including trades, analysis, integration, development, cost, and risk, working directly with the NASA HQ and NASA JSC customers, as well as Northrop Grumman's teammate Boeing.

Once the Orion Phase I contract was underway, I led the organization performing spacecraft analysis, mass properties, margin management, and integration of the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle spacecraft. In additional, I worked on multiple areas of the Phase I and Phase II proposals. I performed docking adapter trade studies and developed requirements for crew habitable volume for Orion. I flew contingency simulations of the spacecraft (I was in the right seat, a former NASA Astronaut/Test Pilot was in the left seat). I was slated to be the Design Integration Lead for Phase II Orion. I also led the Northop Grumman Lunar Lander Design team to architect and develop baseline concept Lander System.

Conceptual Lunar Lander Design. Image credit: Aldo Spadoni. Used with permission.

Conceptual Lunar Lander Design. Image credit: Aldo Spadoni. Used with permission.

Northrop Grumman-Boeing Orion Simulator

NASA Orion Pad Abort 1 May 2010

In 2010, I got to attend the NASA Orion Pad Abort 1 test at White Sands New Mexico. This test was to demonstrate that the Orion spacecraft could successfully abort from an on-pad Launch Vehicle accident, reach sufficient altitude, perform the maneuvers required to separate from the launch abort tower, stabilize, and deploy the parachutes for a safe landing. I was very familiar with these events given that I had performed some of the initial trades, analysis and design for these systems during 2005-2006.

After Northrop Grumman-Boeing lost the Phase II Orion contract to Lockheed Martin, I started working on the government side of Constellation and Exploration, providing support and expertise to the Ares Projects Office (later the Space Launch System) at NASA MSFC, the Constellation Program Office at NASA JSC, and the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate (ESMD) at NASA HQ.

I performed trade studies and decision analysis in support of the continued development of the Ares V Heavy Lift Launch Vehicle (now SLS), and continued concept refinement for Lunar and Mars architecture studies. I participated in the development of the NASA agency-level Mars Design Reference Architecture 5.0 (NASA-SP-2009-566), serving as the Launch Vehicle Segment Lead on the Flight & Surface Systems Team. I developed the dual-use shroud concept for use in the packaging, launching and landing of very large interplanetary payloads. I went on to author the NASA CxP Ares V Pre-Phase A Study Report, which would evolve into SLS through a series of technology trades and decision analysis, including work I performed on engine-out assessment and Earth Departure Stage Technology requirements.

I provided a series of policy and programmatic inputs to the U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee in 2009, and was active in the development of the NASA Constellation Storybook developed in concert across multiple NASA centers. This led to a series of research projects related to comparision and evaluation of multiple historical space exploration roadmaps and historical study of program development at NASA MSFC.

Space Launch System (Ares) Hardware Testing 2009-2010

I got to attend the solid rocket motor testing in Utah in 2009-2010, which included horizontal full-duration test firing of the evolved Shuttle solid rocket boosters for Ares, and eventually SLS.

At the Ares Design Motor 2 Test Firing in August 2010

At the Ares Design Motor 2 Test Firing in August 2010

I attended the launch of the Ares I-X test rocket in October 2009. It was the first vehicle other than the Space Shuttle to launch off of the Saturn V launchpads in Florida since the mid 1970's.