APL Colloquium

February 17, 2006

Colloquium Topic: Breakthrough Technologies that Enable Space Exploration

This seminar will highlight NASA Glenn Research Center's contributions to the Space Shuttle Columbia accident investigation and Return-to-Flight effort as well as current research and technology activities that enable future space exploration. The presentation will begin with an overview of the Center's role in conducting in-depth investigations to help to determine the cause of the Columbia accident and on-going efforts to safely return the space shuttle to flight. This includes conducting impact tests on orbiter windows, and developing components for an on-orbit reinforced carbon\carbon (RCC) leading-edge panel repair kit. Looking to the future, Glenn scientists also are conducting state of the art research that will enable safer, more efficient space exploration. This includes the advancement of propulsion technologies, nuclear and other space power systems, propellant management and characterization, high temperature materials and structures, novel approaches to communications, intelligent sensing, control and robotics systems, and closed-loop life support systems that are necessary to enable the exploration of the solar system and beyond.

Colloquium Speaker: Woodrow Whitlow Jr.

Dr. Woodrow Whitlow Jr. is Director of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) John H. Glenn Research Center at Lewis Field in Cleveland, Ohio. Appointed to this position effective December 25, 2005, he is responsible for planning, organizing and directing the activities required to accomplish the missions assigned to the center. While managing an annual budget of approximately $500 million, he oversees a workforce of close to 1,700 civil service employees that is supported by approximately 1,400 contractors. The center has 24 major facilities and over 500 specialized research facilities located at the 350-acre Cleveland site and the 6,400-acre Plum Brook Station site in Sandusky, Ohio. From September 2003 through December 2005, Dr. Whitlow served as the Deputy Director of the NASA John F. Kennedy Space Center. There his duties included assisting the director in determining and implementing center policy and in managing and implementing the center's missions and agency program responsibilities in the areas of processing, launch, and recovery of launch vehicles; processing of spacecraft; and acquisition of launch services. Prior to this appointment as Deputy Director, he served as the Director of Research and Technology at the Glenn Research Center. Dr. Whitlow began his professional career in 1979 as a research scientist at the NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia. He assumed various positions of increasing responsibility before moving to the Glenn Research Center in 1998. In 1994, he served as Director of the Critical Technologies Division, Office of Aeronautics, at NASA Headquarters. Dr. Whitlow earned his Bachelor of Science, Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in Aeronautics and Astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has written nearly 40 technical papers, most in the areas of unsteady transonic flow and aeroelasticity. Dr. Whitlow has received numerous awards, including U.S. Black Engineer of the Year in Government, NASA Exceptional Service Honor Medal, NASA Equal Opportunity Honor Medal, the (British) Institution of Mechanical Engineers William Sweet Smith Prize and the Presidential Rank of Meritorious Executive. The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics named him an associate fellow in 1993.