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Lori Mullins: Pyrotechnics Specialist
March 30, 2010

Lori Mullins Lori Mullins (NASA)
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Lori Mullins Commander Steven W. Lindsey presents a Silver Snoopy Award to Lori Mullins, right, and Louise Semmel, left. Astronauts select the people who receive this special award for their support of human space flight missions. Mullins was honored for her work on the space shuttle. (NASA)
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For More Information
Link: Space Shuttle Mission Site
Link: NASA Education
As a pyrotechnics specialist at Marshall, I am responsible for pyrotechnics used on boosters that propel space shuttles into orbit. These explosives ignite the boosters to release the shuttle from the launch pad. They also separate the boosters from the fuel tank at just the right moment in the air, and help deploy parachutes that return spent boosters to Earth.

One of the best things about my job is that I get to work with technical experts in pyrotechnics throughout the United States. An even better part of my job is working on a team that gets astronauts into space and then back home safely to their families. Over the years, I've become friends with several of the astronauts. They are truly unique people.

How did I end up here?

Well, at first I had no idea what I wanted to do. But sometimes a person enters your life who makes a big difference. For me, one of those people was a high school teacher who pushed me not to take the easy path. She challenged me and pushed me toward the Summer High School Apprenticeship Research Program, or SHARP. SHARP is a NASA-sponsored educational, eight-week internship program for college-bound high school students interested in technical fields. I applied for the program, was accepted and got to work at Marshall during the summer before my senior year. I learned about engineering and sciences through this hands-on research, and I even got paid to do it!

I had grown up in the area around Huntsville but had never seen Marshall close-up. During my SHARP summer, I got that close-up look, and it amazed and overwhelmed me. I saw engineers and technicians building a mockup for the International Space Station, and I worked with mechanical engineers in Marshall's laboratories. I knew then that I wanted to work here, with spacecraft, for a living.

After high school, I earned a degree in mechanical engineering so I could do just that. I come to my job at MSFC each day looking forward to - and loving - every minute of it.

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