Constellation Program Aerospace Engineer
Born October 19th, 1975, on Long Island in East Moriches, New York. Married to Maureen (Smith) Gerty of Saratoga Springs, New York. They have two German Shepherds and a cat. Enjoys cycling, photography, computers, ice hockey, astronomy, camping and traveling.
Hilton High School, New York, 1989-1990
New Paltz High School, New York, 1991-1993
B.S., Computer Engineering, Clarkson University, 1997
Robotics Division Engineering Co-op, 1996-1998
Aircraft Operations Co-op Engineer at Ellington Field, Summer 1997
Payloads Flight Controller, 1998-2001
Extravehicular Activity (EVA or spacewalk) Flight Controller and Crew Trainer, 2001-2006
Constellation Program Systems Integration Engineer, 2006-present
My interest in spaceflight and NASA began at Gatelot Elementary in Lake Ronkonkoma, New York. My fifth-grade teacher led our class through the investigation of the Challenger accident which was happening at the time. We learned not only about the causes of the accident, but what the space shuttle did and why we traveled to space in the first place. To me, human spaceflight seemed like a very necessary and noble thing for humans to do, even if there were some risks.
Since that experience in elementary school I had the dream, as most space buffs do, of being an astronaut when I grew up. After high school, with that goal in mind I went to college at Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York. While I was there I started to realize that it wasn’t flying in space that was my real goal, but it was helping humans explore and extend our sphere of influence to other worlds. Through Clarkson’s career center I applied for and attained a cooperative education program position at Johnson Space Center (JSC). It was an amazing experience to work along side the people who made the space program happen. I worked with programmers, pilots and spaceflight procedure writers, and all of them seemed to have a true passion for their job. When I finished several co-op tours and graduated, I knew I wanted to be part of this NASA family, and was honored to accept a job offer at JSC as a flight controller.
I will be the Mission Specialist #3 during the NEEMO 13 mission. My job is to be a liaison for the Constellation Program to see how living and working in an underwater habitat can help us learn how to live and work on the moon and Mars.
Some of the most incredible things I have done in my career, and the most applicable to the NEEMO 13 mission, have been as part of my former job in the EVA Systems group in Mission Operations. Spacewalks are very analogous to diving in the ocean. In both situations you need a supply of oxygen to breathe, relative control of pressure and temperature, a means of moving around in a three-dimensional environment, and protection from the hazards. My job was to teach the astronauts how to keep themselves alive and comfortable enough to perform their tasks while doing a spacewalk, or EVA. As part of this job I was able to do a simulated EVA in the U.S. spacesuit at the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory. After “spacewalking” underwater, I had a new appreciation for the difficulty of the construction of the ISS, and the skills of the astronauts who perform ISS construction.
After my time in the EVA group, I got the amazing opportunity to help the Constellation Program plan for lunar missions. My assignment right now is in a group who is defining requirements for what humans need to live and work on the surface of the moon. This task is not only for short missions like we did on Apollo, but for long-term missions taking up half a year or more, and covers not only EVAs, but solving the problems of habitation and physiological problems as well. To do this, we look at the past Apollo missions, long-duration Expeditions to the ISS, and “spaceflight analog missions” like NEEMO, which in many ways simulate a real mission to the moon. NASA has questions like, “What is the best way for robots and humans to work together on the lunar or Martian surface?”, or “How much room do astronauts need to live and work in 1/6 of the Earth’s gravity, compared to the zero-gravity on the ISS?” During NEEMO-13 we bring these sorts of questions from hundreds of engineers and scientists in the Constellation Program. The results will be used to make us more prepared when it is time to put a few more footprints and tire tracks on the moon, and eventually realize the goal of extending the human race to other planets!