September 2005 
Volume 04, Issue 5 
Cover Story

What they saw and felt

Boeing people give their perspectives on STS-114

About 1,800 Boeing employees work on the shuttle and related programs. Here are the perspectives of two of them—in their own words—as they viewed different parts of the STS-114 mission.

Ken Koby I closely watched as the Space Shuttle Discovery cleared launch pad 39B at Kennedy Space Center, Fla., and thundered towards the heavens. This was the start of the STS-114 mission, but more importantly, the return to flight of the space shuttle program.

With the STS-114 crew rode the hopes, dreams and prayers of the world, as well as, nestled in the orbiter's cargo bay, the Italian Space Agency–built Multi Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM) named Raffaello. This camper-sized freighter, loaded with approximately 2,600 pounds of badly needed cargo, was finally destined for the International Space Station.

With this historical event unfolding before my eyes, I could not help but think of the many MPLM ground processing teammates around the world who proudly readied Raffaello for this trip to space. As a Boeing system engineer assigned to the MPLM fleet at KSC, I witnessed firsthand the tireless efforts of these professionals to configure the MPLM for flight, then, following the Columbia tragedy, flawlessly perform the following: destow all MPLM cargo, reexamine all KSC payload processes and MPLM flight hardware, configure and restow all the new cargo, and close up and deliver the MPLM to pad 39B per the new launch schedule.

As the saying goes regarding MPLMs at KSC, "nothing is easy." But the dedicated men and women that were assigned to the STS-114 Mission Processing Team made many of these critical tasks look routine. Their attention to detail, experience and love of the business we do, which is processing payloads for space at KSC, helped lift STS-114 into the beautiful Florida sky on the 26th of July.

—Ken Koby
Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

Darby CooperAs the project engineer for Space Shuttle debris transport analysis and integrated vehicle aerodynamics, I played a lead role for the team responsible for simulating debris events that could take place during a Shuttle launch.

In preparation for Return to Flight, our team made more than 1 billion debris trajectory computations using computer simulations and Computational Fluid Dynamic models. We also conducted a 3 percent-scale wind-tunnel test to verify the aerodynamic environment of the redesigned External Tank and confirm that the CFD models for debris transport were accurate.

The Space Shuttle Program extensively reviewed all aspects of debris, including release, transport and impact damage. My role was to coordinate the team's work with our United Space Alliance and NASA customers. With the technical team, I worked to ensure we delivered a quality technical product that was properly reviewed by our Boeing experts.

It was exciting to see our work made a difference in returning the Space Shuttle safely to flight. It was obvious how this work contributed by addressing not only the specific debris that had resulted in the loss of Columbia, but all possible debris risks to the Space Shuttle.

It was exhausting to produce all of the analyses that addressed the approximately 180 possible debris sources and demonstrate that all of the models and tools and each analysis were properly checked and validated. But in the end, the liftoff of Discovery made it all worth it.

—Darby Cooper

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