Matthew Lemke, Orion Avionics, Power and Wiring Manager
This profile is the first in a series to introduce the people behind the development of Orion in advance of the spacecraft’s move from the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans to Kennedy Space Center in Florida for outfitting before its first space-bound test, planned for 2014. Exploration Flight Test-1 is an essential step that will allow engineers to acquire critical re-entry flight performance data and demonstrate early integration capabilities to prepare Orion for deep space exploration.
Q: What is your contribution to EFT-1?
A: I am responsible for most everything that generates or uses electrons on the Orion spacecraft. That includes things like solar arrays, batteries, computers, displays, sensors, radios, antennas … Lockheed-Martin and their industry team do all of the hard work. I just make sure they have information they need to be successful and help set priorities.
Why is that contribution important?
It sometimes takes someone who is a step removed from the detailed engineering to ask questions like, “why?” “Is that really necessary?” “How could we modify the requirements to get the same capability for a lower cost?”
What do you find most fulfilling or like best about your job?
Getting to work on such a variety of hardware and working with the companies that are providing that hardware. Lockheed-Martin, Honeywell, Ball, and the many others, have amazing people and amazing capabilities.
What’s the most interesting part of what you do here at JSC?
The part of my job I find the most interesting is the opportunity to learn new things. In the last few months I have learned about expendable launch vehicles, pyrotechnic devices, the Van Allen radiation belt, lightning protection towers, flammability of electronics in high oxygen environments … In past years I have worked on spacesuit radios, laser inspection systems, inflatable space vehicles, regenerative life support, and robotic planetary rovers. What other place could offer this kind of variety?
What’s your best NASA memory so far?
My best NASA memory was getting to do some last minute crew training in the crew compartment, on the launch pad, just days before the launch of the Wake Shield Facility.
When you’re not at the office, what do you like to do?
I enjoy construction and remodeling projects. Building things gives me a great sense of personal accomplishment when I can point to something and say, “I did that!”
What were your career goals as a teenager?
I always thought I would be a scientist and invent new things.
Was there someone in your life that influenced you to take this career path, or studies in school?
No one in particular. My parents always emphasized reading and learning and I had some great teachers in high school that encouraged me to pursue a technical education.