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I Am NASA Stennis: Robert Simmers

Robert Simmers
NASA Engineer Robert Simmers stands in front of the B-2 Test Stand at NASA’s Stennis Space Center, where he will support Green Run testing of the new Exploration Upper Stage expected to fly on the Artemis IV mission.
NASA/Danny Nowlin

The launch of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket in the early morning hours of Nov. 16 turned out to be nothing short of thrilling for NASA Stennis Space Center employee Robert Simmers. The historical moment will be read about for generations to come.

As NASA explores the unknown in space through the Artemis program, it inspires Simmers as his work at NASA Stennis directly contributes to it.

(Testing the Space Launch System core stage) was exhilarating. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to make history, rather than read it out of a book.

Robert Simmers

Robert Simmers

NASA Engineer

“Having worked on the Green Run test series for the SLS core stage, through the preparation, practice runs, and actual hot fire and getting to see the vehicle launch after all the effort we put into it, it was exhilarating,” Simmers said. “It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to make history, rather than read it out of a book.”

The Slidell native works in the Safety and Mission Assurance (SMA) Directorate at NASA Stennis. Simmers is the B-2 Test Stand safety and quality representative. He worked night shift as a SMA representative when the SLS core stage made NASA Stennis its home at the B-2 Test Stand from 2020-21. The NASA engineer created the facility hazard analysis for B-2 and helped ensure the safety of operations before each hot fire attempt.

The Mississippi State graduate received an Honoree Award in August for his efforts through the Space Flight Awareness Program. In recognition of his support of human spaceflight, Simmers toured NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The Green Run test series culminated in March 2021 with the most powerful propulsion test at NASA Stennis in 40 years. The full duration hot fire of the SLS core stage and its four RS-25 engines conducted by the NASA Stennis team happened before the world witnessed the actual launch in November.

“I’m a fan of the small team dynamic we have at NASA Stennis,” Simmers said. “The fact that many people here know a good portion of the NASA and contractor teams by name goes to show how well the Stennis family gets along with each other to achieve the goals of the agency. The workplace culture is that of a family here and the diversity of the family shows. The different backgrounds, origins, and specializations of the people at Stennis are what enables us to perform at the level we do.”

As NASA Stennis prepares for future testing related to the Artemis program, Simmers will support Green Run testing of the new Exploration Upper Stage (EUS) at the B-2 Test Stand. EUS is being built at Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans as a more powerful second stage to send the Orion spacecraft to deep space. EUS is expected to fly on the Artemis IV mission and will replace the interim cryogenic propulsion stage being used on initial Artemis flights. The new stage will allow NASA to send 40% more payload to the Moon – 38 metric tons compared to 27 metric tons on initial missions.

“I am excited by the new projects coming in,” Simmers said. “It is nice to see and hear all the new programs coming to NASA Stennis to advance the future of propulsion testing and human space flight.”

For information about Stennis Space Center, visit Stennis Space Center.