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Amber Marek
Kennedy Space Center, Fla.
(Phone: 321/867-2468)

RELEASE : 09-05
KSC Employee Earns Award for Return To Flight Accomplishments
Former Hawaii resident Chris Davis, a senior project manager in the Spaceport Engineering and Technology directorate at Kennedy Space Center, Fla., recently helped to complete two high-priority Space Shuttle ground processing improvement projects that are part of NASA's Return to Flight requirements. In recognition for his efforts, he received the Space Shuttle Program's highest award, the Space Flight Awareness Award.

The two projects involved the orbiters' thermal protection system and the External Tank (ET) foam inspection. During the orbiter thermal protection system impact testing, small projectiles were shot through a previously developed pneumatic launch assist tube, at various speeds, toward a target containing bottom orbiter tile test panels to determine how much damage Space Shuttle tile can tolerate. Results of these tests have caused the Space Shuttle Program to reduce the allowable debris size because of the damage the foam inflicts on tile.

During ET foam inspection tests, Davis' team developed a state-of-the-art technique called "shearography" to ensure that foam will not come off the tank during launch and ascent. Shearography is an optical, interferometry technique that uses a laser to detect defects. It is currently being developed on the ET foam for the Space Shuttle Discovery's Return to Flight, set for a May-June launch window.

Davis has worked at KSC since 1990. He received a master's degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Central Florida in Orlando in 1993 and is a member of the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society.

He attended Damien Memorial High School in Honolulu, Hawaii, and the University of Hawaii-Manoa, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1983.

His civic involvement includes the Red Cross Disaster Assessment Team. He is a member of the Wah Lum Northern Praying Mantis Kung Fu Performance Team that competes at numerous tournaments and performs at many cultural events.

He has written and published several papers including "Shearographic Non-Destructive Evaluation of the Space Shuttle" for the American Society for Non-Destructive Testing Conference in 1999, and "Shearographic and Thermographic Non-Destructive Evaluation of the Space Shuttle Structure and Thermal Protection Systems" for the International Society for Optical Engineering in 1995.

At Kennedy Space Center, Davis chairs the External Tank Foam Non-Destructive Evaluation (NDE) team and has served as vice chairman of the NASA NDE Working Group since last year. His work in NDE earned him a Group Achievement Award in 2004.

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