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FEATURE
Working in Tune

06.23.05

Mark Sestile Processing NASA's Space Shuttles for flight is like composing a great opera: the timing must be perfect and all the notes must flow together to work. Mark Sestile and his team perform together like an orchestra conductor to help get the job done. As part of Return to Flight preparations, Sestile's team came up with a software tool to track 2,500 modification milestones in order to keep the process humming along.

Image right: Mark Sestile from United Space Alliance develops work-impact assessments for orbiter modifications. Image credit: NASA

Sestile serves as a modifications manager with United Space Alliance (USA) in Space Shuttle ground processing and it's his team's job to analyze how long modifications to the vehicle will take and what is needed to complete necessary upgrades.

"Mark's innovative approach in developing the modification tracking tool brought the technical community together in assessing all of Discovery's Return to Flight modifications," said Michael Hartney, USA manager of orbiter and payload processing for ground operations.

During the past three years, Sestile has worked on projects including meeting requirements of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board and other improvements performed on Discovery for Return to Flight.

Beginning in late 2003, he developed a computer matrix from information gathered from various people involved in Space Shuttle upgrades and modifications. The computer matrix is a software tool that helps engineers look up and track the complex array of work being done on the Space Shuttle.

Sestile also determined due dates for design engineering and hardware delivery for each orbiter vehicle.

"It's a great tool to monitor progress of all the modifications up to the implementation phase," Sestile said. "We can update the matrix as work progresses, and it's a useful tool to ensure all engineering and hardware meet established need dates."

To create the matrix, Sestile worked with The Boeing Company in Huntington Beach, Calif., and Johnson Space Center in Texas. He also worked with NASA and Boeing counterparts at Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

"It takes a team of people working together to get the work done for Return to Flight," Sestile said. "We were able to install all required modifications into Discovery on schedule. The success is the teamwork between NASA, USA and Boeing."

Sestile is now developing assessments for a new system – the Space Station to Shuttle Power Transfer System – that will extend the duration of future missions. The design concept is complete and ground processing is in the implementation phase.

"When this new system is in place, NASA can accomplish more science, more research, more Extra-vehicular Activities and more work on the Space Station during the missions," Sestile said.

As Space Shuttle missions continue, you can be sure Sestile and his team will be there for every measure keeping the NASA team working in rhythm.


Linda Herridge, KSC Staff Writer
NASA's John F. Kennedy Space Center

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