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Constellation: The Future of Space Exploration
06.06.06
 
As deputy director of Kennedy Space Center's Constellation Program, Pepper Phillips past helps him plan the future. Specifically, his experience aids in planning to successfully transition from processing and launching space shuttles to working on the new crew and cargo exploration vehicles.

His current projects include preparing to establish a ground infrastructure that will meet the needs of the Constellation Program. This involves identifying the best technical solution for processing these next-generation vehicles and working with the center to determine how to best transition assets from Kennedy's existing programs.

Crew Exploration Vehicle final assembly, launch vehicle integration, and launch will be performed and managed at the center, according to Phillips. "It's incredibly exciting to be part of the development of a new program," Phillips said. "It's a big challenge to find a perfect solution within the program's aggressive schedule and limited budget constraints."

As Phillips looks toward the future, he's also mindful of the past and where he spent most of his time at the center. "I was what you would call 'raised by the Space Shuttle Program.' "

Pepper Phillips, deputy director of Kennedy's Constellation Project After working for McDonnell Douglas for a year, Phillips began his career with NASA at Kennedy in 1987 in the Shuttle Processing Engineering Directorate, where he worked on hazardous gas detection systems. He worked as a shuttle operations engineer from 1988 to 1990 and then became a NASA test director in 1990.

Image left: Phillips at the podium discussing his role as the new deputy director of the Constellation Program at Kennedy. Image credit: NASA/KSC

After the STS-49 mission landing in May 1992, Phillips became vehicle manager of the orbiter Endeavour -- one of the best jobs he ever had. "I gained a real appreciation for the work required to make everything come together," he said.

In 1995, he became branch chief for processing operations before becoming flow director for Endeavour in 1998. Phillips was named chief of the Shuttle Processing business office in 2000, then deputy director of the Shuttle Processing directorate in January 2005 before moving to his current position in the Constellation office.

"It was amazing to be part of the day-to-day processing operations and see Kennedy's talented people work with some pretty complicated machinery, and get it done every day," Phillips added.

Tip Talone, director of the Constellation Project Office, said Pepper acts as more of a partner in the management of the wide-ranging responsibilities included in the Constellation Project at Kennedy. "His leadership experience in shuttle, both in operations and business, are invaluable in leading our team to meaningful solutions to the constant barrage of issues inherent in a start-up of this size and significance," Talone said.

Some of Phillips' family members also have a long history in the space program. His father, Don Phillips, is retired from shuttle operations. His mother, Judy Phillips, worked in quality control for the U.S. Air Force. His wife, Stacie Phillips, works in NASA's Human Resources office, while his sister, Susan Feagan, works in the NASA Comptroller's office. His brother-in-law, Chris Feagan, and mother-in-law, Marilynn Burger, work for United Space Alliance.

In his spare time, Phillips likes to play tennis, ride his Harley-Davidson and spend time with his family.

 
 
Linda Herridge, Staff Writer
NASA's John F. Kennedy Space Center