Who's Who at NASA

William Allen, Senior Engineer, Spacecraft Mechanical Engineering Section, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA

William Allen, senior engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, is the mechanical systems design lead on the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), NASA’s biggest, most expensive, and most capable Mars rover. The rover is set to launch in November 2011.NASA Tech Briefs:  NASA is gearing up for the Mars Science Laboratory to launch in late November. Can you set the stage for us? What is the mission?William Allen: The Mars Science Laboratory is our next rover that we’re sending to Mars. It’s significantly more capable and massive than the previous rovers that we’ve sent up. It’s nuclear-powered, so we won’t have some of the challenges that we’ve had with solar power. It’s designed to be a science laboratory versus the predecessors that were more like mobile geologists. This’ll actually be a mobile science laboratory. There are 10 instruments on board to facilitate that.

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Phil McAlister, Acting Director of Commercial Spaceflight Development, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC

Phil McAlister, acting director of commercial spaceflight development, oversees the efforts of the Commercial Crew Development and Cargo programs. The dual initiatives spur efforts within the private sector to boost human spaceflight capabilities.NASA Tech Briefs: As NASA’s acting director of commercial spaceflight development, what are your day-to-day responsibilitiesPhil McAlister: My primary responsibility is to advise the mission directorate associate administrator on issues pertaining to design, development, and demonstration of NASA’s commercial spaceflight development efforts. Those efforts currently consist of the Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) program, which is being managed out of the Kennedy Space Center, and the Commercial Cargo project, which is managed out of Johnson Space Center (JSC).Those two activities are in very different phases of their lifecycle. The Commercial Cargo project has been ongoing for about five years now, and it’s at the tail end of its development activity. We hope to have flights to the International Space Station by both of our partners, SpaceX [Space Exploration Technologies Corp.] and Orbital Sciences Corp., by the end of this year. By contrast, the Commercial Crew program is just starting out. As such, it requires much more of my attention on a day-to-day basis. Right now, I’m focused on the acquisition strategy associated with the Commercial Crew program. I also manage a small staff here at headquarters to assist in those efforts.

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Dr. Lin Chambers, Project Scientist, NASA Langley Science Directorate, Hampton, VA

Dr. Lin Chambers is Project Scientist in the Innovations in Global Climate Change Education program. The congressionally mandated project, initiated in 2008, awards grants to institutions that educate communities about climate science. The group develops resources to help others better understand and explain the causes and effects of climate change.

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Leland D. Melvin, Associate Administrator for Education, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC

As NASA’s associate administrator for education, Leland Melvin is responsible for the development and implementation of the agency's education programs that strengthen student involvement and public awareness about NASA's scientific goals and missions.

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Michael Ryschkewitsch, Chief Engineer, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC

As NASA's Chief Engineer, Michael Ryschkewitsch is responsible for the overall review and technical readiness of all NASA programs.

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Dr. Waleed Abdalati, NASA Chief Scientist, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC

Waleed Abdalati, on January 3rd of this year, became NASA’s chief scientist. He will serve as the principal adviser to the NASA administrator on agency science programs, strategic planning, and the evaluation of related investments.

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Chad R. Frost, Intelligent Systems Division’s Area Lead for Autonomous Systems and Robotics, NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA

Chad R. Frost supervises the Autonomous Systems and Robotics (ASR) technical area in Ames Research Center's Intelligent Systems Division. ASR staff develops advanced automation and control technologies to enable safer and more efficient aircraft, make robots smarter and more capable, increase scientific productivity, and allow spacecraft to explore the universe with greater independence.

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