Brent Gaddes and Patrick Hull — engineers at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., and graduates of Tennessee Technological University of Cookeville –recently were honored for their work on critical flight hardware for the Orion spacecraft’s first mission, Exploration Flight Test-1.
The adapter will connect the Orion spacecraft with a Delta IV rocket for the launch later this fall. The adapter, designed and built at the Marshall Center, is complete and ready to be shipped ahead of that maiden flight.
Gaddes and Hull received special commendation awards for that work at a celebration event at Marshall. The awards were presented by John Casper, Orion special assistant for program integration and a former astronaut.
Hull, originally from Oak Ridge, Tenn., served two years as lead designer for both the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle Stage Adapter and the Space Launch System (SLS) Launch Vehicle Spacecraft Adapter. SLS, NASA’s new rocket, will be capable of powering humans and support systems to deep space. It has the greatest capacity of any launch system ever built, minimizing cost and risk. Hull earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees from Tennessee Technological University. He is now components and mechanisms team lead for the Structural and Mechanical Design Branch of the Space Systems Department. In his current role, he works on SLS ground support equipment design and analysis.
Gaddes, a native of Brentwood, Tenn., is adapter subsystems manager for the SLS Spacecraft & Payload Integration Office at Marshall. He is responsible for managing the design, development, production and test of the adapters between the various stages of the SLS rocket and the Orion spacecraft. He graduated from Tennessee Technological University in 1987 with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering.
During Orion’s first trip to space, the spacecraft will travel 3,600 miles above Earth’s surface before re-entering the atmosphere traveling approximately 20,000 mph at temperatures near 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The uncrewed flight will provide engineers with important data about Orion’s heat shield and other elements, including the adapter’s performance before it is flown in 2017 as part of the first SLS mission.
The flight adapter will be shipped in mid-March from Marshall to United Launch Alliance’s facility in Decatur, Ala. The company is constructing the Delta IV rocket for Orion’s first flight. From there, it will travel by ship to Cape Canaveral, Fla.
To watch a video of the adapter’s journey to completion, click here.
For more information on Orion, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/exploration/systems/mpcv/
For more information on SLS, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/exploration/systems/sls/