|RROxiTT Test Manager and Robotic Refueling Mission (RRM) Command Plan Lead|
What kind of work do you do as "RRM Command Plan Lead"?
As the RRM Command Plan Lead, I wrote the command procedures for the fluid transfer system on RRM, as well as the fault isolation procedures and contingency procedures. The command procedures detail what commands to send to open the fluid transfer system valves, in an exact sequence, and what telemetry we expect to see after each command is sent. In the off chance that we encounter an equipment failure, the fault isolation procedures will help us identify which component failed and will direct us to the proper contingency procedure to successfully complete flight operations.
What is your favorite part of the job?
My favorite part of the job is the opportunity to work with brilliant and innovative engineers. In this group, we are constantly asked to design and do things that have never been done before. We love a good challenge!
What first interested you in working for NASA?
I was first interested in working for NASA when I was a teenager and started watching re-runs of the original Star Trek series. The idea of exploring new worlds and learning new things fascinated me (and still does). I was fortunate to be raised by supportive parents that told their children that, with hard work and persistence, we could be anything we wanted to be.
Where did you go to high school and college, and what degrees did you receive?
Although I attended high school in Pennsylvania, I decided to get my undergraduate degree in Upstate New York, earning a B.S. in mechanical engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. I've also earned an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering (concentrating in composite materials) at Drexel University, a Professional Engineering License (in electrical engineering), and an Executive Masters in technology management from the University of Pennsylvania.
How did your education prepare you for your work at NASA?
Learning never stops, whether it is formal (as in a degree) or informal (as in from your peers). You can never know enough, especially when creating something new or doing something that has never been done. You must be able to work in a team and do your own independent research. My education taught me how to learn technical information and has prepared me to ask the right questions.
What made you want to work in satellite servicing, and what interests you the most about it?
I enjoy working in satellite servicing because it is new, exciting, and will have direct applications for extra-terrestrial exploration. Someday, we will be using robots to assemble extremely large telescopes in space. Also, when we have a permanently staffed base on the Moon and Mars, we will need robots and tools developed for robots to survive. What we do in this group today is the innovation needed for tomorrow's space exploration.
How long have you been at NASA?
I've been working on NASA projects since 1988, starting with remote earth-sensing satellites (Landsat and Earth Observing System Terra) and then on to servicing the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). Most of the time, I was the hardware engineer responsible for attitude and control equipment. This is equipment that senses "where" a spacecraft is and how it is moving, including the actuators that help it point in a certain direction. I've been very fortunate to work on HST, a telescope that provides new knowledge to re-write our textbooks on astronomy every year. This work has given me the opportunity to stand on the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center, stand inside the orbiter, witness shuttle launches and landings in person, and work with the astronauts. For the Robotic Refueling Mission, I moved from designing, building, and testing space hardware to developing procedures for on-orbit operations. This has given me a more intimate knowledge of the International Space Station (ISS), the people at Marshall Space Flight Center who send the commands directly to the equipment on the ISS, and the people at Johnson Space Center who control the ISS robots.