This profile continues a series to introduce the people behind the development of Orion. The first space-bound Orion vehicle recently arrived at Kennedy Space Center in Florida from Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. At Kennedy, the spacecraft will be outfitted for Exploration Flight Test-1 (EFT-1), planned for 2014. EFT-1 is an essential step that will allow engineers to acquire critical re-entry flight performance data and demonstrate early integration capabilities to prepare Orion for deep space exploration.
Meet Cindy Jih, S-Band Subsystem Manager at JSC
Jih was born and raised right here in Clear Lake City, Texas. She attended Cornell University where she received a Bachelor of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) and a Master of Engineering in ECE/Systems Engineering.
Jih’s team is building the primary communication system that will allow the Orion vehicle to communicate with Earth during the mission.
“It is necessary to have a communication system so that health and status, video, and later voice (when astronauts are onboard) from the vehicle can be monitored and commands from the ground can be sent to the vehicle throughout the mission,” Jih said.
In regards to EFT-1, Jih feels this test flight is necessary because it will help provide performance information about the radio during EFT-1 and also gives NASA the confidence to use this technology on future missions. Jih said the team also hopes to learn how the radio performs during antenna switches and various dynamic portions of the mission such as LAS abort or re-entry and landing.
As the S-Band Subsystem manager for Orion, Jih deals with all the hardware aspects of the S-Band System. This can range anywhere from the design of the system to mechanical, parts and safety issues. For EFT-1, the S-Band system consists of a Baseband Processor, a Transponder and four Phased Array Antennas.
Most fulfilling part of her job
“I love that I have been working on Orion from almost the beginning and witnessed the many design tweaks and changes along the way,” Jih said. “I’m excited to be able to see a project go from requirements on paper to real hardware being built, tested and flown.”
The most interesting part of her job is “being able learn about various fields of study from the experts.”
Jih said her best NASA memory thus far would have to be watching STS-125 launch on-site at KSC before the shuttle program ended. A close second-favorite memory was of another visit to KSC where she got into a bunny suit and crawled around Discovery while it was in the Orbiter Processing Facility (OPF).
As for NASA’s future, Jih hopes the agency will continue to be a leader in space exploration and pave the way for developing advance technologies to get explorers to new and exciting places in space but also apply those technologies to improve life on Earth.
Life outside the office
“I love to travel and eat my way through cities all over the U.S. and around the world,” Jih said. “I feel you get a real understanding about the people and their culture from tasting the foods they eat.”
Jih said she was always interested in math and science as a child and was inspired from early on to work at NASA, having grown up in Clear Lake City.
As most kids do, Jih had someone in her life who inspired her along the way. For Jih, it was her dad.
“When I was little, I loved to follow my father around with a screwdriver, copying him as he fixed things around the house,” Jih said. “He would take the time to teach me why something was broken and how to fix it. This taught me the importance of understanding how things worked and being able to apply that knowledge in a useful way.”