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Center Snapshot: Mark Lindsey
Mark Lindsey. Image above: As a young boy, Mark Lindsey began surf fishing with his father. In 2007, Lindsey reeled in a bull shark off of the North Carolina coast.

By: Denise Lineberry

Mark Lindsey invests his time and effort, because the return is so great.

He led the NASA Langley team that built the crew module simulator that flew with the launch abort system as part of the successful Pad Abort-1 flight test on May 6, 2010. That test flight lasted 95 seconds. The system propelled the crew module simulator off the launch pad to a speed of almost 445 mph in three seconds. It took 49,500 fabrication hours and 2,000 fabricated parts to build the almost 20,000-pound capsule, which is a test version of the newly named Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV).

After it returned safely to the desert floor by parachute, it underwent some minor repairs before beginning a cross-country outreach tour.

On weekends, Lindsey catches his own bait and then waits along the shoreline after casting his fishing line into the ocean. On one occasion it took him 1 hour and 15 minutes to reel in his biggest catch, a 250-pound bull shark that was 7 feet long.

Mark Lindsey.
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Mark Lindsey is a program specialist, detailed as the section head for Metals, Fabrication and Technology Section. Each day, he wears his Pro-Am Team fishing tournament championship ring with pride. Photo credit: NASA/Sean Smith

After the catch, he returned it to the ocean.

As a participant in the Pro-Am Team fishing tournament, he and teammate Richard Chattin of Langley's Materials Experiments Branch spent weekends bass fishing for seven years in Virginia, North Carolina and Maryland. After each trip, they weighed in their bass at a check-in point. In 1998 and 2001, they won the overall championship for the most pounds of bass recorded those years.

After each championship, he returned with a ring. And he wears his latest with pride.

"Fishermen can’t buy these," he said. "They have to win it."

His dad was an avid fisherman and used to take him on fishing trips. Lindsey took his own son, Mark Jr., on a few fishing trips, "but he just didn't catch the fishing bug," Lindsey said. "It's not for everyone."

His wife, Mary, goes along on trips, but prefers to relax, collect shells and read on the beach.

Lindsey met Mary in the fifth grade. They began dating in the ninth grade and were married after completing high school. Lindsey is a graduate of Hampton High School and his wife was a part of Bethel High School's first graduating class.

His NASA career began at Langley's machine shop through the Apprentice School Program. "It was an opportunity and I jumped in with both feet," he said.

He is a program specialist, detailed as the section head for Metals, Fabrication and Technology Section. He is reworking the crane rails for the 14 by 22 Wind Tunnel traverse system for acoustic array beams. The rails will also be used for traverse assembly.

"I am very satisfied with my career," he said. "I came here, struggling to make ends meet, out of the U.S. Navy with a wife and child."

He worked two jobs until the age of 38. "I think I've done very well considering my humble beginnings," Lindsey said.

Doing well is not something that he, or his family, takes lightly. Ten years ago his mind and body led him to see a doctor about a sun-damaged spot on his skin. After insisting that it be tested, he learned he had melanoma. The malignant melanoma had progressed to the first lymph node. He has had two operations to remove the cancer.

"I was very lucky that I didn’t have to go through chemo," he said. "It was caught just before spreading."

Since the operations, the cancer hasn’t progressed and, next month, Lindsey hopes to be turned free by his oncologist with a good bill of health.

After he retires, he hopes that he and his wife can visit various national landmarks and see Niagara Falls and the Grand Canyon.

At last, the Orion MPCV is making a cross-country trip -- Lindsey should, too. And with each trip, his return will be great.

The Researcher News
NASA Langley Research Center
Editor & Curator: Denise Lineberry
Managing Editor: Jim Hodges
Executive Editor & Responsible NASA Official: Rob Wyman