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Masters Forum 19: Passing the Torch 2

Masters Forum 19: Passing the Torch 2

As NASA anticipates the retirement of the Space Shuttle, it is timely to continue reflecting upon the many important lessons learned from the formulation, development, and operations of the program and its many contributions to human exploration and science.

Masters Forum 19: Passing the Torch 2 was a follow-on to the highly successful Masters Forum 18 held in May 2009 with a similar theme. Fortunately, many of the master practitioners who were involved in the shuttle program are still available, and many were able to participate and share their stories and lessons learned with current and future NASA practitioners. Additionally, the Forum provided an opportunity to explore key lessons learned from the Constellation program and look into the future to anticipate space-transportation systems requirements and NASA’s new mission-enabling, technology-portfolio investment strategy.

Masters Forum 19 took place May 12-15, 2010, in Melbourne, Fla. It was a collaboration between the Academy of Program/Project and Engineering Leadership, NASA Headquarters Public Affairs Office, and Kennedy Space Center Public Affairs. The program included several panel discussions, including a special panel of future explorersyoung students ranging in age from 7 to 17 years who share our passion for space. There were also presentations on Learning from the Past: Attributes for NextGen Space Transportation and The Way ForwardThe View from the NASA Chief Technologist. In the evening acclaimed master storyteller, Jay O’Callahan, presented his original story, “Forged in the Stars–A NASA Story,” specially commissioned by NASA APPEL.

Forums participants were also privileged to travel as a group to the Kennedy Space Center to view the historic final planned launch of Space Shuttle Atlantis (STS-132), which lifted off from Launch Pad 39A on May 14 at 2:20 p.m. EDT. The following day the group returned for a full-day guided tour of the Kennedy Space Center, including the Shuttle Landing Facility and the International Space Station Center.


Bobby Braun, NASA Headquarters Wayne Hale, Johnson Space Center Wilson Harkins, NASA Headquarters Noel W. Hinners, Consultant Ed Hoffman NASA Academy of Program/Project & Engineering Leadership
Thomas (Tom) L. Moser, NASA retiree Interview with Jay O'Callahan, Master Storyteller John O'Neill, NASA (Retired) Millard Reschke, Johnson Space Center Russel (Russ) E. Rhodes, Kennedy Space Center
Russell Romanella, Kennedy Space Center Howard Ross, Glenn Research Center Joe Rothenberg, Universal Space Network and NASA (Retired) Michael J. Sander, Jet Propulsion Laboratory Jody Singer, Marshall Space Flight Center
Phil Sumrall, Marshall Space Flight Center Katherine Thomas, NASA Academy of Program/Project & Engineering Leadership Mark Uhran, NASA Headquarters Martin Zell, European Space Agency  


The Shuttle Program: Formulation, Development, and Operations

  • Thomas (Tom) L. Moser began his aerospace career at RCA Missile and Surface Radar Division as a mechanical design engineer. Joining NASA at the Manned Spacecraft Center (Johnson Space Center) in 1963, he held various positions including Apollo subsystem manager for the Command Module and Launch Escape System Structure; orbiter subsystem manager for the structure and thermal protection systems (tiles); orbiter deputy project manager; and director of engineering.
  • Jody Singer currently serves in a dual role as the deputy project manager for the Shuttle Propulsion Office (SPO) and as the deputy manager for the Ares Project Office at Marshall Space Flight Center. Appointed deputy project manager of the Shuttle Propulsion Office in October 2007, she has served as the deputy project manager for the Ares Project Office since March of 2010.
  • Russel E. Rhodes is a native of the state of Indiana, where he earned a BS in aeronautical engineering from Indiana Institute of Technology in 1958, and a senior member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics for more than fifty-five years. He has been employed for more than fifty years at Kennedy Space Center.
  • John W. O’Neill is currently engaged as an aerospace operations and management consultant working with companies in the Johnson Space Center supporting the center and other organizations in the area. At the time of his retirement in 1998, he held the position of director of Space Operations.

Abstract As NASA anticipates the eventual retirement of the Space Shuttle, it is timely to reflect upon the many important lessons learned from the formulation, development, and operations of the Space Shuttle program. The shuttle program represented a dramatic departure from the launch and space vehicles of the preceding Apollo era, with a new focus on routine access to low-Earth orbit, utilizing a high degree of reusability and higher flight rates, to attempt to meet its many challenging goals. There is much to be learned from this pioneering effort in space launch and operations and, fortunately, many of the master program/project manager practitioners who were involved in the shuttle program are still available to share these stories and lessons learned with the current and future practitioners within NASA.

This panel examined the transition from the Apollo era to the shuttle program, the early conceptualization and definition of the shuttle, the development of its many challenging new systems and subsystems, the changing political environment, and its flight operations over the past nearly thirty years since its first flight: STS-1 on April 12, 1981. The panelists have experience in each of these phases of the program, including extensive involvement in Apollo through the development of the Space Shuttle itself and its subsequent launch, flight, and mission operations, which they shared from their unique perspectives.


The Shuttle Mission: Enabling Science and Exploration

  • Noel W. Hinners consults for NASA and the aerospace industry and 4-D Systems, which supports the NASA Academy of Program/Project and Engineering Leadership.
  • Joe Rothenberg’s career spans forty-six years, twenty-seven years in the aerospace industry and eighteen years with NASA. He is currently an independent consultant with an international client base.
  • Michael J. Sander leads the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) efforts in support of the NASA Exploration System Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters. Until February 2004 he was project manager of the Mars Science Laboratory.
  • Millard F. Reschke serves as NASA’s Chief of Neuroscience and is primarily responsible for the overall sensorimotor science program concerned with the effect of spaceflight on the central nervous system.
  • Howard Ross is currently an associate center director for planning and evaluation at Glenn Research Center and specializes in workforce planning, technology development, and new business.

Abstract The Space Shuttle was conceived to operate in conjunction with a space station. Under extreme budget pressures in 1972, NASA was allowed to proceed with only the Space Shuttle, thus creating a challenge to develop capabilities well beyond its primary space launch vehicle role. Hence, the Space Shuttle system design rapidly evolved to serve as a reusable spacecraft, or platform, to conduct diverse missions for the scientific and exploration communities and return to Earth to be reoutfitted to meet other mission requirements. This panel examined a sampling of the challenges and unique contributions the Space Shuttle has made in space sciences, including the remarkable Hubble servicing missions that helped establish and maintain Hubble as one of NASAs premier scientific observatories; in extensive lifesciences research activities, crucial to future human exploration; in unique microgravity sciences projects; in Spacelab and other space-sciences flight projects and experiments; and as a critical enabler of the development of the International Space Station, the construction of which has demonstrated an important capability for future onorbit operations and eventual space exploration beyond low-Earth orbit. The panelists, each having served in key leadership positions that led to these successes, shared their unique experiences in their respective areas.

Results from more than a decade of microgravity experiments performed on the Space Shuttle were also highlighted. Those results yielded significant advancements in scientific understanding, insight regarding specific processes and technology performance, insights into in-space experiment operations, and technology transfer (spinoffs). Though not all findings could be covered during this panel, the principal areas of focus were the experiments performed in biotechnology, combustion and fire safety, fluid physics, materials science, and fundamental physics with a focus on how having people there (rather than in purely remote operations) made a difference. Centers worked together necessarily, and spontaneously, during missions. And the crew contributions that took placeand which the crew enabledduring STS-107, Columbia’s last mission, led to direct and lasting value of some of the experiments.


The Space Shuttle/Space Station Synergy and Interdependencies

  • N. Wayne Hale, Jr., is NASA’s deputy associate administrator for Strategic Partnerships, responsible for coordinating interagency and intergovernment partnerships for the Space Mission Operations Directorate at NASA Headquarters.
  • Tommy W. Holloway retired in 2002 as manager of the International Space Station (ISS) program for Johnson Space Center. He was named ISS manager in April 1999 after serving as manager of the Space Shuttle program (SSP) for nearly four years.
  • Mark L. Uhran has been a leader in determining practical applications of orbital space stations since 1984, when he began evaluating mission requirements for the NASA space station during the concept phase.
  • Martin U. Zell is the head of the International Space Station (ISS) Utilization Department in the Human Spaceflight Directorate of the European Space Agency (ESA).

Abstract The greatest technical and engineering achievement of the Space Shuttle is the assembly and development of the
International Space Station (ISS), which was designed in its entirety for launch, assembly, and servicing by the Shuttle. Indeed, following the first element launchthe Russian-launched Functional Cargo Block module that established the initial foundation for Stationthe Shuttle manifest has been dominated by ISS requirements, also making Shuttle dependent upon ISS for its mission. The Space Station program has evolved dramatically since
its initiation in 1984, having undergone several major redesigns. The most notable of these was the creation of what became ISS following the Vest Committee Review in the early 1990s, which affected the overall program structure and management approach and also necessitated the need for increased payload performance to meet the requirement to move the Station to an orbital inclination accessible to new Russian partners.

Perhaps most remarkable is the fact that ISS is the creation of eighteen international partners, whose hardware and systems often came together for the first time in orbit. As the assembly of ISS nears completion, the partners are now entering a decade of ISS utilization, which will afford the scientific and human exploration communities an opportunity to fully exploit the promise of this remarkable achievement, and to establish the foundation for exploration beyond the boundaries of low-Earth orbit. In this regard, ISS is a model for future human exploration missions, which undoubtedly will be dependent upon international collaboration on a global scale. The panelists examined the lessons learned from the development of ISS, reviewed the evolving international partnership, and peered into the future to anticipate the great promise of ISS.


My NASA Panel: A Perspective from Future Explorers

  • Panel Chair: Katherine Thomas is a member of the Academy of Program/Project and Engineering Leadership team. She is responsible for the Knowledge Sharing activities, including the Masters Forums, ASK Magazine, and many other efforts.
  • Jaret E. Cherry (age 7) is an honor roll student in the second grade. He is in the Gifted and Talented Program, also referred to as Active Learning Experiences in Resourceful Thinking (ALERT).
  • Zak Hovey (age 13) is a seventh grader. He plays baseball and loves building things with paper and other objects.
  • Owen O’Neill (age 13) is in the seventh grade. His favorite subjects are mathematics, reading, and science.
  • Nick Hernandez (age 15) is in ninth grade. He is affiliated with the theatre, is in honors science, and is a student in advanced social studies, maintaining As in all classes.
  • Shelby J. Holloway (age 17) is a high school senior. Her classmates and teachers know about her love for NASA due to the topics she chooses to research and speak about during class.

Abstract Featuring students ranging from second to twelfth grade, this panel looked at the perspective of our future generation in a facilitated discussion. Through a series of questions, Panel Chair Katherine Thomas drew out their ideas, opinions and expectations of NASA. The students had the chance to share their thoughts about contributing to NASA’s future. The theme of this Masters ForumPassing the Torchrelates to the passing of knowledge gained from the Space Shuttle program. With the retirement of the Shuttle and the beginning of a new chapter in human space exploration, now is the time to listen to the generation that will lead the nation in the decades ahead.

Lessons from Constellation

  • Phil Sumrall joined the Marshall Space Flight Center in 1962 as a member of the Von Braun team that developed the Saturn family of launch vehicles used in the Apollo program. When the Ares Projects Office was formed at Marshall in September 2005, he became the advanced planning manager. In this capacity, he is involved in planning for the Ares V cargo launch vehicle.
  • John Karas is vice president and general manager of Human Space Flight for Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company. From 1995 to 1997, he served as program director for advanced Atlas Launch vehicles, specifically the Atlas IIIA launch system. Mr. Karas spent seven years working all levels of integration on the Shuttle-Centaur program.

Abstract Established in response to the early emphasis on lunar exploration in NASA’s former Vision for Exploration program, the Constellation program had several major program elements: the Ares I launch and Ares V heavy-lift vehicles, the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV), and the Altair Lunar Landing system. The Ares launch systems development, managed by Marshall Space Flight Center, was led as an in-house project, whereas the Johnson Space Centerled Orion CEV development was awarded to Lockheed Martin. Considerable progress has been made in the development of these capabilitiesthe first major space-transportation systems development undertaken by NASA since the Space Shuttle programand many of the lessons that have been learned as a result of undertaking these projects were examined during this session.

Lessons Learned in Building the Ares Projects
Since being established in 2005, the Ares Project Office at Marshall made steady progress designing, building, testing, and flying the next generation of exploration launch vehicles. Ares committed to rebuilding crucial capabilities from the Apollo era that made the first human flights to the moon possible, and incorporated the latest in computer technology and changes in management philosophy. One example of an Apollo-era practice was giving NASA overall authority for vehicle-integration activities, which provided civil service engineers with hands-on experience in developing rocket hardware. This knowledge and experience help make the agency a “smart buyer” of products and services. More modern practices have been added to the management tool belt to improve efficiency, cost effectiveness, and institutional knowledge, including knowledge management/capture to gain better insight into design and decision making; earned value management, where Ares won a NASA award for its practice and implementation; design for operability; and Lean Six Sigma applications to identify and eliminate wasted time and effort. While it is important to learn technical lessons like how to fly and control unique rockets like the Ares I-X flight-test vehicle, the Ares management team also learned important lessons about how to manage large, long-term projects.

The Development and Evolution of the Orion CEV
The Orion contract was awarded more than three years ago with an early mission goal in mind. It has evolved to an even more highly flexible, high-tech, deep-space machine. Its focus and design has changed from low-Earth orbit and cargo to beyond low-Earth orbit with the utmost safety. This, coupled with predictable budget cuts, has delayed the original schedule. Its governance model was one of utilizing ten healthy centers and a robust, one-time test program for all missions. In today’s world, requirements/capability expansion, low-risk/high-safety design trade-offs, replanning due to budget and design refinements, and the prior governance model all have positive and negative aspects. How is the CEV program using these lessons to restructure the program to potentially fit into the current Administration’s plans?


Learning from the Past: Attributes for NextGen Space Transportation

  • Wilson B. Harkins, III, is NASA’s acting deputy chief of Safety and Mission Assurance.

Abstract NASA has learned much from nearly fifty years of human spaceflightfrom Alan Shepards flight as the first U.S. astronaut on May 5, 1961, through the Apollo and the Space Shuttle programs. Systems have evolved from the fully expendable, essentially single-purpose capabilities of Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo to the multi-purpose, nearly fully reusable capabilities of the Space Shuttle. NASA has endured the painful tragedies of the Apollo 1 fire and the devastating losses of Challenger and Columbia and their crews, while also demonstrating the remarkable capabilities of the Shuttleenabling the servicing and refurbishment of the Hubble Space Telescope and the assembly and development of the International Space Station, to cite but two examples. As space transportation systems architectures and capabilities have evolved, their attributes, systems performance, and critical capabilities such as crew abort systems have evolved as well. As NASA completes the final few flights on the Shuttles currently planned manifest and begins to develop the technological foundation for NASA’s future space launch systems, it is timely to review some of the lessons learned from this evolution, and to begin to try to identify how these lessons might influence the architectural considerations, systems designs and performance, and key desired attributes of these future space transportation systems and capabilities.


The Way Forward The View from the NASA Chief Technologist

  • Robert (Bobby) D. Braun is the NASA Chief Technologist. In this capacity, he serves as the principal advisor and advocate on matters concerning agencywide technology policy and programs. He is also the David and Andrew Lewis Professor of Space Technology in the Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Abstract In response to the Augustine Committee Report of 2009, which reviewed the technological base required to implement NASA’s Vision for Exploration, and a companion NRC report in 2009 on the review of NASA’s former National Institute for Advanced Concepts, the administration has directed NASA to significantly increase its investment in innovative, mission-enabling technologies that will provide the foundation for bold scientific and human exploration missions in the coming decades. In response to this initiative, NASA created the new Office of the Chief Technologistreporting directly to the Administratorwhich will be responsible for the oversight of the nearly $5 billion research and technology portfolio investment over the next five years.

The goal of this new office is to stimulate innovation, and mature and infuse technologies across NASA’s missions. This session provided an overview of this new initiative and examined how innovative, game-changing technologies and new partnerships can enable bold and exciting scientific missions and provide the technical and scientific base for the expansion of human exploration beyond low-Earth orbit. The new NASA Chief Technologist shared this vision with the Forum attendees, and he spoke with authority in these matters as he was one of the key leaders who applied advanced entry, descent, and landing technologies that have enabled a decade of Mars robotic science missions.


Knowledge Capture
Abstract Table discussions, reflections, and group reports. Participants were asked to respond to the questions: “What was the most important thing you learned today and why?” and “How will you use what you learned?”.

Facilitators Ed Hoffman, Academy Director, and Katherine Thomas, Academy Knowledge Sharing Lead

Presentation and Flip Charts