STS-114: Space Shuttle Return to Flight
As Launch Nears, NASA's Angie Daniels Juggles Tanks, Taxes, Triplets
June Malone/Martin Jensen
Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.
News Release: 05-072
It's not unusual for NASA systems engineer Angie Daniels to see very little of her tax-accountant husband in March and April.
But this year, as NASA worked toward mission STS-114, Space Shuttle Return to Flight, Daniels turned the tables on him.
A technical engineer for systems integration supporting the External Tank Project Office at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., Daniels burned the midnight oil at work, while husband Glenn wrapped up tax season, juggling more of the daily household routine and shepherding their active, 7-year-old triplets to school and cheerleading practice.
For Daniels, the big payoff will be worth it. As she and thousands of other NASA workers complete their final tasks and tests, Space Shuttle Discovery is moving milestone by milestone closer to launch.
Daniels' job is to review and process integration requirements for the massive External Tank, the 154-foot-long "backbone" of the Space Shuttle, which delivers its primary fuel load, supports the Shuttle on the launch pad and absorbs the 7.3-million pounds of thrust generated during launch. That means ensuring all aspects of attaching the tank to the Solid Rocket Boosters and the Orbiter -- the other primary components of the Shuttle Transportation System -- go smoothly prior to launch, and meeting all remaining tank preparation requirements as the Shuttle is fueled and prepared for countdown.
Daniels previously served as a safety engineer for the External Tank project. She reviewed the entire project, ensuring the tank team addressed upgrades recommended by the Columbia Accident Investigation Board, which submitted its findings to NASA in the wake of the February 2003 loss of Shuttle Columbia.
Her work on the Shuttle team has been a sobering but exhilarating experience for Daniels. "The real benefit of working in a safety-conscious organization is the constant reminder that we live by more important factors than cost or schedule," she says. "Every day, we're reminded we hold lives in our hands. We're determined to honor that trust and responsibility."
Daniels was born in the bustling Army community of Fort Riley, Kan., but spent the next five years in Germany, her mother's homeland, following the death of Daniels' father when she was just 10 months old. Returning to the States in 1970, Daniels grew up in Columbus, Ga. She graduated from the University of Alabama in Huntsville in 1987 with a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering, and immediately went to work as a systems engineer with a NASA contractor in Huntsville. She married Glenn Daniels the following year.
She joined NASA in 2000 as an engineer in the Marshall Center's Safety and Mission Assurance Office, which routinely rotates safety engineers from one organization or program to another. That system, still in use for key engineering and safety personnel, provides the broadest possible understanding of engineering operations across the Center, Daniels says.
"Each move offers new insight, new ways to partner with NASA teams to improve their processes," she says. "It prevents us from getting tunnel-vision, becoming too focused on a single project or hardware component. The big picture stays foremost in everyone's minds."
Daniels believes that's certainly the case for STS-114. "There's so much excitement," she says. "I just feel very fortunate to be on this team, and to know I had something to do with getting the Space Shuttle flying again."
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