Editor’s note: This is the fourth in a series of five features introducing members of the IXPE team. The features will run weekly through Dec. 8.
By Jim Cawley
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center
The Imaging X-Ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE), NASA’s first mission dedicated to measuring X-ray polarization, is targeted for launch on Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021, aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A in Florida. IXPE will study changes in the polarization of X-ray light through some of the universe’s most extreme sources – including black holes, dead stars known as pulsars, and more – to help astronomers better understand these exotic cosmic phenomena.
Meet one of the key members of the launch team:
Name: Brett D. Perkins
Official title: Launch Services Program (LSP) Launch Site Integration Manager
Job responsibilities: I work with the IXPE spacecraft team to identify, document, and subsequently provide the facilities, supplies, and support needed to process the spacecraft at the launch site and to prepare it for launch. My team provides this support in numerous ways, including contracts, work orders, and local accounts. The IXPE spacecraft uses optical instruments provided by the Italian Space Agency. These instruments must remain ultra-clean while at the launch site. I help maintain a clean tent with high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration for the spacecraft to be kept inside while it is being readied for launch.
Time working at Kennedy Space Center/NASA: I have worked at Kennedy Space Center since 1990 – 18 years with Lockheed Martin and United Space Alliance, and then I joined NASA in 2007. Before settling in to my current role in LSP, I loaded hypergolic propellants on the space shuttle, I was a test project engineer managing shuttle testing from the Launch Control Center firing room, I was a lead for shuttle launch countdown simulations and was a NASA test director.
Degrees earned: Bachelor of Science in engineering from Auburn University in 1990 and a Master of Science in space systems from Florida Tech in 1995.
Hometown: I grew up in Melbourne, Florida. After completing college, I came back to Melbourne, where I continue to live. I feel fortunate to be able to work in the space program and still live near my closest friends and relatives.
Family: I have been married to Tip Perkins for 25 years. We have two children: a daughter, Alyssa, who is 20 years old. She attends the University of Florida computer science online bachelor’s degree program and is also training to be a professional ballerina at the Alvin Ailey Dance School in New York City. My son, Nathan, is 18 years old. He played competitive club soccer and was active in Boy Scouts for 10 years. He wants to major in chemistry in college.
Hobbies: I am interested in science and astronomy, aquariums, computer and strategy board gaming, and model rocketry. I like listening to progressive rock, especially the music of bands such as Rush and Yes. I also enjoy classical music. I appreciate all science fiction/fantasy genres, but my favorites are “Star Trek,” “Star Wars,” “Battlestar Galactica,” and the works of J.R.R Tolkien.
Fun fact: Because of my efforts supporting the OSIRIS-Rex mission, I had an asteroid named after me: Main belt asteroid 134088 Brettperkins.
More key IXPE team members: