Constellation Education

Orion

Visit the Constellation Program education page, your online source for Constellation-related educational materials and information.

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Constellation Outreach

Constellation Outreach

From speaking to school-age kids to exhibiting at your local state fair, NASA wants to share the story of America's new launch vehicles.

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Stars of Constellation

    Meet the Faces Behind the Hardware of NASA’s Constellation Program

    NASA’s Constellation Program isn’t just about building the next generation spacecraft, but launching explorers that will help us learn more about our world. Discover the faces behind the hardware that will send humans to the moon and beyond.

Robert Howard Jr.

    Out of This World Home Design

    Robert Howard, Jr.

    Title: Space Human Factors Analyst

    Raised: Greensboro, N.C.

    Academics: Georgia Institute of Technology, Morehouse College, North Carolina A&T State University and University of Tennessee Space Institute

    Degree: Bachelor of Aerospace Engineering, Bachelor of Science in General Science, Master of Science in Industrial Engineering (Human Factors) and Doctorate in Aerospace Engineering

    Robert Howard Jr. Video Profile
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    To do his job, Robert Howard says that not only do you get to use your imagination, you have to. Howard is leading a team of architects, industrial designers and engineers to develop concepts for the lunar lander, rover and habitat for NASA’s Constellation Program. He has also supported design of the Orion crew exploration vehicle.

    His role in the designs is to make sure that the inside is arranged in a way that makes sense so that the crew members can do their jobs and be comfortable in their far away home. Plans call for future crews to live on the moon for up to six months, so having comfortable surroundings will be important.

    "You do have to have an imagination," Howard says. "By planning to stay on the moon, we're doing something that has never been done before. Yes, the laws of physics come into play and there are things you would love to see that just aren't physically possible, but we do need to be creative."

    His passion and imagination for spacecraft design began at an early age. A surprise to him at the time, his mother was actually delighted when she discovered he had etched the design of a spacecraft control station on the wall of his closet with a key when he was about eight years old. Howard kept his imagination churning and ended up where he belongs, designing life on the moon.

    Howard believes, "The sky is not the limit. The sky is where we begin."

    He began his life in Xenia, Ohio and grew up in Greensboro, N.C. He also lived briefly in Tallahassee, Fla. and Camp Springs, Md. As a college student, Howard was a regular at Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston through eight summer work tours, returning for a permanent position in 2002.

    Howard says he has always had a strong network to rely on as his career has progressed. He attributes a source of inspiration and motivation to those who have blazed a path before him, including some of NASA's African American astronauts.

    In the fifth grade, he remembers meeting astronaut Ronald McNair at a school presentation. In the eighth grade, after moving, he saw another presentation by McNair and was surprised to learn that McNair remembered who he was.

    Former astronaut Fred Gregory responded to a letter Howard sent as a high school senior to a few astronauts seeking guidance. Gregory continued to mentor Howard during his internships at JSC.

    Throughout his career, he has been extensively involved with the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), serving in numerous chapter, regional, and national offices. Currently, he is the Chairperson for NSBE’s Aerospace 2010, as well as the founder and president of the Houston Space Chapter. And he is the founder and director of NSBE’s Space Special Interest Group. Howard has been a member of NSBE since 1990.

    "At first, NSBE was just another student organization to belong to," Howard says. "But in graduate school I began to see more of the importance of the organization, both in reaching back to helping younger students succeed, and even more so as a tool for career development and even space advocacy. Through NSBE I have had the opportunity to meet and collaborate with other engineers not just from other NASA centers, but across aerospace and non-aerospace disciplines across the country and even a few internationals."

    With a membership of approximately 31,000, NSBE offers membership categories for pre-college students, undergraduates, and technical professionals. Howard has received a number of NSBE awards, including the Golden Torch Award Graduate Student of the Year, National Member of the Year, Alumni Extension National Member of the Year, Alumni Extension Technologist of the Year, National Distinguished Fellow, Technical Paper Competition First and Second Place, University of Tennessee Space Institute-NSBE Chapter Member of the Millennium, and United States Achievement Academy All American Scholar.

    Howard also is a member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, National Space Society, and the Moon Society.

    According to Howard, the best part about his job is never knowing what is going to happen next. He has been surprised with tasks to measure an actual Apollo-era lunar lander trainer to evaluating a lunar habitat mockup with Apollo astronauts. These are rare behind-the-scenes moments in NASA's journey back to the moon.

    For information about Johnson Space Center, visit:
    http://www.nasa.gov/centers/johnson/home/index.html

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