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Gazarik Introduces Bright Minds to Space Tech
July 16, 2013

 

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At NASA’s Langley Research Center, Mike Gazarik, the associate administrator for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD), reminded nearly 200 summer interns of the important role they play in space technology.

“Space tech is about building a community of people,” Gazarik said, “especially those in college … tapping into the brightest minds, and yes, you are the nation’s brightest minds, you’re going to be called that a lot in the years as you come out of college.”

Gazarik provided an overview of the Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) and highlighted some challenges within the agency that space tech will address.

One challenge is deep space optical communications and solving the problem of slow data transmission.  The more NASA explores deep space, the more there is a need to get information, such as images, sent back to Earth quickly.

"You can think of it in a way that we’re currently exploring the universe with the equivalent of a dial-up modem,” Gazarik explained.

To speed things along, Space Technology’s Deep Space Optical Communications project is building lasers that will transmit data faster and with better results.

To demonstrate how technology can change the game, Gazarik tested the students’ pop-culture knowledge by referencing the movie “Apollo 13.”

The main conflict of the “Apollo 13” movie occurred when the astronauts were stuck in a space capsule and running out of oxygen. They needed a new carbon filter and had to improvise by using duct tape and spare parts. Having a 3D printer on board, just like the one that NASA plans to have aboard the International Space Station later this year, would have helped the astronauts in the movie.

“That’s exciting, you can imagine exploring space and being able to make parts as you go,” Gazarik stated. “It solves a lot of problems.”

Gazarik said that STMD is about getting back into the labs, “building, testing and flying.”  Then, solutions follow.

“You’ve all heard the phrase ‘failure is not an option,’ and in human space flight that’s absolutely true. But it turns out, in the technology world, that’s not the greatest approach to take,” Gazarik said. “Failure needs to be an option. If you don’t try new technologies or approaches in the lab then that’s when you’re guaranteed to fail; it won’t result in any breakthroughs.”

For more information on STMD: www.nasa.gov/spacetech

For more photos from Gazarik's visit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nasa_langley/sets/72157634670548982/

Joseph Donatelli

Langley Aerospace Research Student Scholar

Mike Gazarik, the associate administrator for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD), told a group of LARSS (Langley Aerospace Research Student Scholar) interns that the space tech community will be calling on them a lot in the coming years.
Image Credit: 
NASA/David C. Bowman
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[image-36]
Mike Gazarik, the associate administrator for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD), told a group of LARSS (Langley Aerospace Research Student Scholar) interns that the space tech community will be calling on them a lot in the coming years.
Image Token: 
[image-51]
Page Last Updated: July 28th, 2013
Page Editor: Joe Atkinson