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Dowdell Credits Colleagues for Director's Award
William Dowdell received the Director's Award, Kennedy Space Center's highest honor, during the recent NASA Awards Ceremony. Dowdell is chief of the Mission Management Office and technical operations director for payload launches in the International Space Station/Payload Processing directorate.

He received the award for "outstanding leadership, significant contributions and dedication to the success of the International Space Station Program."

William Dowdell, chief of the Mission Management Office and technical operations director for payload launches. "I was very honored to receive this award," Dowdell said. "But it's also a reflection on the entire group's performance, including Boeing's Checkout Assembly and Payload Processing Services and fellow (space station) colleagues' dedication to achieving success."

Image left: Dowdell stops for a photo opportunity in Kennedy's space station processing facility. Image credit: NASA/KSC

Reminiscing about his quarter-century at Kennedy, Dowdell said he never dreamed he'd be working for NASA. Coming to Florida's Space Coast from his hometown of Fairmont, W. Va., was quite by chance.

After earning a bachelor's degree in biology and chemistry from Fairmont State University in 1979, Dowdell visited friends living in Cocoa Beach, Fla. He applied for a job at Management Services Inc. (now Wiltech) and was hired as a chemical analysis technician.

In 1982, Dowdell returned to his home state and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from West Virginia University in 1985, then returned to Florida -- hooked on the space program.

He worked for Lockheed Space Operations Co. in environmental control and life support systems from 1985 to 1989 and then was hired by NASA. Dowdell worked in the Test Director's Office beginning in 1989 and was a shuttle test director from 1994 through 1996, before transferring to space station element processing.

In the Space Station Processing Facility, Dowdell worked on station elements including the Zenith 1 (Z1) truss for mission STS-92 that launched on Oct. 11, 2000, and the power module (P6) for mission STS-97 that launched on Nov. 30 the same year.

For P6 processing, Dowdell traveled to California to work with Rocketdyne and Boeing. He also worked with Lockheed and Loral Space Systems and led the qualification test programs for Z1 in Seattle and P6 in Denver.

"Working for Norm Carlson, and later Mike Leinbach in the Shuttle Processing Directorate, made it very easy in my current job to integrate the space station work effort with the shuttle operations integrated flow," Dowdell said.

U.S. Node 2 and Japanese Experiment Module elements in Kennedy's space station processing facility. In his current position, Dowdell is responsible for space station hardware integration and performing final flight test and assembly in the processing facility at Kennedy prior to delivery to the station. He also ensures that cost, schedule and technical issues are resolved.

Image right: The U.S. Node 2 and Japanese Experiment Module (JEM) elements being processed in the high bay at Kennedy Space Center. Image credit: NASA/KSC
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Russ Romanella, director of Space Station/Payload Processing, said Dowdell's dedication and insight into ground processing of human space flight vehicles is unsurpassed.

Dowdell works with other agency centers, Boeing Design Centers in Canoga Park, Calif., and international partners, such as the European Space Agency for the Nodes 2 and 3 and Columbus module processing and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency for the Japanese Experiment Module.

"We are building a one-of-a-kind laboratory in space," Dowdell said. "The technology and its robustness will be a huge help to the agency as we prepare to go to the moon and Mars. And I hope we'll be able to use the station to the full extent of its research capabilities to improve the quality of life here on Earth."

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