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Center Snapshot - Howard Knight
Howard Knight.
Image above: Howard Knight spends "quality time" with the PA-1 simulator in the Hangar before its departure from NASA Langley. Credit: NASA/Sean Smith.

Howard Knight has been at NASA Langley for 20 years, following a family line that began here long before his arrival.

Robert Hunt, his stepfather, was a conceptual artist and photographer, and he purchased the first motion picture camera owned by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA).

Hunt painted the portraits of center directors. One of his paintings is displayed in the Reid Conference Center; the others are in the hallway outside of Center Director Lesa Roe’s office.

Howard’s uncle, Earl Knight, helped to build Apollo and was a graduate of the NASA Langley Apprentice School in 1965, the year Howard Knight was born.

Knight is following in his uncle’s footsteps by testing the Orion crew module simulator or Pad-Abort 1 (PA-1)

As an electrical engineer, detailed to Orion as an engineering technician, he has gathered all types of experiences in his career and personal life, worthy enough, it would seem, of a biography.

Knight is the father to an eight-month-old boy, Farriss Salahdin Knight. He tells of Farriss traveling to his mother’s birth country of Morroco. Knight's wife, Souad L. Knight, travels a lot and speaks five different languages.

This makes it easier for Knight to travel in her company, breaking many communication barriers. Although Knight is “born and raised southern” in Fox Hill, he also enjoys traveling abroad.

He said that one of his most memorable trips was when he drove the entire coast of Spain, following the tracks Hannibal took in invading Italy in 218 B.C.

But Knight enjoys returning to his “small, close-knit community” in Hampton, where he has been a volunteer fire fighter since the age of 16.

He has a 14-year-old Moroccan-born Shitzu, named “Chubby.”

“He was the biggest one of litter,” Knight said.

He also found a new love in windsurfing. “Most people go through life not knowing what they were meant to do. … And I found windsurfing,” Knight said.

But that is definitely not all he does.

Knight graduated from the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company apprentice school in 1986 as a marine electrician and the NASA Langley Engineering Technical Apprentice program as an electrical designer in 1993.

While working at NASA Langley, Knight said, he attended night classes and received two associates degrees from Thomas Nelson Community College, an undergraduate degree from Old Dominion University in electrical engineering and a graduate degree in engineering management from George Washington University.

Knight now works on the Orion Crew Module with four other NASA Langley employees with whom he attended the same elementary school. He shared a kindergarten classroom with Scott Belvin, the Orion crew module test director.

Their memories of childhood from a close-knit community have carried into their careers where they work as a close-knit group, completing work similar to the work that Knight’s uncle began some 43 years ago with Apollo.

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Denise Adams
The Researcher News