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99-73

For Release: September 17, 1999


Pam Caswell
(Bus: 216/433-5795)

Lori J. Rachul
(Bus: 216/433-8806)


NASA Glenn Honors Its Own

At the NASA Glenn Research Center's Honor Awards Ceremony on Monday, sixteen researchers and technicians received awards for their for extraordinary contributions to Glenn projects and research. NASA Associate Administrator for Aero-Space Technology Spence M. Armstrong and Glenn Research Center Director Donald J. Campbell presented the awards. Former Astronaut and current Ohio COSI (Center of Science and Industry) President and CEO Kathryn Sullivan was the keynote speaker at the September 13, 1999, event.

The Abe Silverstein Medal is awarded to a Glenn employee for outstanding research contributions that have led to widely recognized practical applications. This award has been established to commemorate the long and fruitful career of Dr. Abe Silverstein, former Director of Glenn. This year the medal went to Dr. Pappu L.N. Murthy who conceived, configured and developed micromechanics-based methodologies that resulted in easy to use computer codes for fiber-reinforced polymer, metal and ceramic matrix composites. The codes, ICAN for polymers, METCAN for metals and CEMCAN for ceramics, address all major issues pertaining to practical applications of these fiber-reinforced matrix materials and predict all aspects of behavior for a given set of constituents. Dr. Murthy proactively transferred the technology to NASA prime contractors, others industries, academia and other government agencies. To date, more than 100 organizations nationwide have successfully used the programs.

The Craftsmanship Award, a new award for this year, went to two technicians. The award is the most prestigious award given by Glenn to its skilled technicians and recognizes excellence in craftsmanship and significant contributions to Glenn research and projects.

Gregory C. Blank devised two schemes for attaching instrumentation wires to special purpose glass tubing used in a capillary heat-transfer experiment. The wires for the capillary tube portion of the test loop were placed in a spiral groove that Blank ground into the glass. The grooves prevented the wires from touching and increased the effective contact area with the glass. For the cone section of the tubing, the wires were bent into a serpentine shape, wrapped around the glass and epoxied in place. These and other contributions to the design and fabrication of the experiment hardware contributed to the flawless performance of the experiment. The experiment was carried out in the Microgravity Science Laboratory aboard the Space Shuttle.

Richard M. Chapek designed, built and fabricated a gas mixing and delivery system for the cool flame flight-definition experiment. Starting from a back-of-the-envelope sketch, Chapek suggested improvements that increased safety, operation and flight worthiness and then built the system. His additions to the design included check valves to prevent gas backflow, a helium fill/purge system for gas dilution and pneumatically actuated valves to eliminate spark hazard. Chapek also designed a vacuum pump for the system.

The Distinguished Publication Award is presented each year to recognize outstanding research and technology contributions by Glenn staff members. This year the award went to the paper entitled, "Equilibration Near the Liquid-Vapor Critical Point in Microgravity," which was published in the January 1998 issue of the journal Physical Review E. The authors, R. Allen Wilkinson (from Glenn) and G.A. Zimmerli (National Center For Microgravity Research, Cleveland, OH ), Hong Hao (University of Maryland, College Park, MD), Michael R. Moldover and Robert F. Berg (both from National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD), William L. Johnson (from Westminster College, New Wilmington, PA), and Richard A. Ferrell and Robert W. Gammon (University of Maryland), devised and executed an experiment which verified previous theory. They found that in low gravity the rate of density homogenization in fluids near their peculiar liquid-vapor critical point is very very slow but predictable. The critical point is the highest temperature, density and pressure combination at which a fluid's liquid and vapor states are distinguishable. The experiment was carried out in the long-duration microgravity environment of the Space Shuttle. The results presented are of use to scientists in such areas as fluid physics, condensed matter physics and phase transitions like the superconducting and superfluid transitions.

The Steven V. Szabo Engineering Excellence Award was established to honor the memory of Steven V. Szabo, Jr., director of Engineering at Lewis Research Center from 1986 to 1993 by recognizing excellence in engineering that contributes to the mission of the Center. The 1999 award went to Leon P. Gefert, Leonard A. Dudzinski, Kurt J. Hack, Alan W. Hewston and Thomas W. Kerslake, all members of the solar electric propulsion (SEP) stage design team, for developing a Mars Exploration mission profile that reduces launch mass by 18 percent and cost by $500 million below those of preceding mission profiles. The profile calls for reusuable solar electric rockets and a unique orbit transfer technique to efficiently move the Mars exploration vehicle from low Earth orbit to a highly elliptic Earth-escape orbit, a small taxi to take the crew to the vehicle once the escape orbit is achieved and cryogenic chemical rockets to insert the vehicle into a path toward Mars. Because of these concepts as well as the team members' skill and innovative approach to resolving compatibility issues with other mission elements, the solar electric propulsion-based profile has been accepted by the Johnson Space Center's Mars Exploration project office as one of three design reference missions.


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