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Heather M. Koehler

NASA Technical Fellow for Flight Mechanics

Ms. Heather M. Koehler currently serves as the NASA Technical Fellow for Flight Mechanics.  Ms. Koehler started her career with NASA at Johnson Space Center in 1997 as a contractor developing the Primary Avionics Shuttle Software, focusing on Guidance, Navigation and Flight Control.  She implemented a variety of new capabilities for on-orbit flight control, space integrated GPS/INS, main propulsion system and the redundant set launch sequencer.  She supported real-time operations for multiple Shuttle missions serving in the Mission Evaluation Room.  Ms. Koehler transferred to MSFC to support the International Space Station Payload Operations Integration Facility where she developed and tested payload planning software to support on-board experiments.

In 2000, Ms. Koehler accepted a government position in the Natural Environments Branch of the Flight Mechanics and Analysis Division at MSFC.  In this role, she characterized the sporadic meteoroid environment for NASA Projects and Programs.  Ms. Koehler developed the Agency’s first directional meteoroid model, widely accepted, and utilized by spacecraft designers and cited in NASA-STD- 8719.14.  She has authored and co-authored papers related to meteoroid modeling, lunar meteoroid impact characterization and space station survivability assessments. 

Ms. Koehler moved into a technical leadership role with the Space Launch System Program responsible for the Vehicle Management function where she managed the technical, schedule and budgets associated with 3DOF/6DOF simulations, Mission Design, Guidance, Navigation and Control, Mission and Fault Management and Natural Environments.  Following this role, Ms. Koehler became the Chief of the Guidance, Navigation and Mission Analysis branch in the Flight Mechanics and Analysis Division with responsibility for leading multiple technology development activities, mission proposals, and providing the technical team to support SLS and Human Landing Systems.  She has served as deputy for the NASA Flight Mechanics Technical Fellow in the Capability Leadership Team supporting the state of the discipline assessments and strategic vector formulations.  She completed several rotational assignments as acting Deputy Division Chief, acting Division Chief of the Flight Mechanics and Analysis Division and Deputy Project Manager for the Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Experiment.  Ms. Koehler recently served as the Deputy Project Manager for the Mars Ascent Vehicle, a 2-stage solid-solid launch vehicle responsible for delivering Mars soil and atmosphere samples for orbit rendezvous and return to Earth. 

Ms. Koehler has spent 25 years in various engineering and management positions in the Flight Mechanics discipline and Project Management.  She was awarded a Director’s Commendation, Silver Snoopy and multiple group achievement awards.  She received a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Aerospace Engineering with special focus in advanced astrodynamics from Auburn University.