For release: 10-09-03
Space exploration is no short trip for David Argenti. From his home in Spring Hill, Tenn., it’s a 200-mile round-trip commute to his job at the Marshall Center. Argenti works with the microgravity science glovebox, one of the key scientific facilities onboard the International Space Station. The glovebox — a sealed container with built-in gloves — allows Space Station crewmembers to safely perform experiments with hazardous fluids, flames or fumes.Photo: Argenti (NASA/MSFC/David Higginbotham)
Driving 100 miles to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., from Spring Hill, Tenn., everyday to work may seem like a trip to the moon and back for some. But when you develop a love for science fiction movies at age 4, you’ll do what it takes to work in space exploration. That’s the way David Argenti sees it.
"Being a sci-fi fan works very well with my job," Argenti said. "It's great because I’m fortunate to be a part of humankind’s advances into outer space."
Argenti works with the microgravity science glovebox, one of the key scientific facilities onboard the International Space Station — the orbiting laboratory NASA and space agencies from 15 other countries are building in space. The glovebox — a sealed container with built-in gloves — allows Space Station crewmembers to safely perform experiments with hazardous fluids, flames or fumes.
Since joining NASA contractor, Raytheon Information Technology and Scientific Services in Huntsville in 2000, Argenti has been responsible for developing training materials for astronaut crews as well as ground support teams who work with the glovebox. Argenti also trains astronauts at Johnson Space Center in Houston to use the glovebox aboard the Space Station. And if questions or issues arise during an experiment about glovebox, he’s the one who responds to the call from space.
"In working with the microgravity science glovebox, change is the only constant we know,: Argenti said. "Reacting to change without warning sometimes can be trying, but it keeps you alert, and it is never boring. The glovebox is only in its first year of a 10-year run aboard the Space Station, and we have already experienced the thrill of scientific success coupled with the challenge of hardware problems."
Argenti grew up in Miami, where he graduated from Miami Carol City Senior High School. But, for the past six years, he’s become accustomed to the easier-paced life in Spring Hill — 35 miles south of Nashville.
Argenti earned his bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Auburn University in Auburn, Ala., in 1986 — and soon after moved north to Huntsville, Ala., to work in the space program, joining Advanced Technology Inc. — a small NASA contractor.
Argenti supported Astro-1, a Spacelab flight carrying three telescopes designed to explore the Universe by observing and measuring invisible light energy from celestial objects. Spacelab was the laboratory where science research was performed inside the Space Shuttle’s payload bay. Argenti's hard work garnered him a NASA Silver Snoopy award, presented by the Astronaut Corps to only 1 percent of the aerospace community each year. Award recipients include individuals who have performed an outstanding effort, contributing to the success of human space flight missions. Argenti supported 23 NASA Spacelab missions.
His current focus, training astronauts to use the glovebox 240 miles above Earth, has helped him fulfill another dream — becoming an educator. "I always wanted to be a teacher, so training astronauts on a piece of hardware that flies in space is actually a lot of fun," Argenti said.
When he’s not working with crews in space, you’ll probably find Argenti back home with his wife and 3-year-old daughter watching reruns of the original "Star Trek" television series. He also likes to visit his mother and sister in Gainesville, Fla.
And being near the ocean is a perfect place for Argenti in his free time, because he’s a huge fan of sharks. In fact, if he could work in another field, Argenti says he'd be an ichthyologist — a shark guy. "I'd love that!" he said.
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