For release: 07/15/02
Release #: 02-176
Detroit native Charles Smith helping to develop NASA's next generation reusable launch vehicle
Detroit native Charles A. Smith, recently named manager of the Systems Engineering and Integration Office for NASA's Space Launch Initiative, has a vital role in the development of the next generation space launch vehicle and successor to the Space Shuttle.
Detroit native Charles A. Smith, recently named manager of the Systems Engineering and Integration Office for NASA’s Space Launch Initiative, has a vital role in the development of the next generation space launch vehicle and successor to the Space Shuttle.
The goal of the Space Launch Initiative is to design a complete space transportation system that can meet the needs now fulfilled by the Space Shuttle, as well as anticipated future needs of human space flight -- but with greatly increased safety and reliability, and at a much lower cost.
To successfully meet Space Launch Initiative requirements, the Systems Engineering and Integration Office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., develops key engineering processes. Under Smith’s leadership, this office uses these processes to identify the best design solutions to meet the initiative’s goals of increased safety, reliability and affordability, for both government and industry space access needs.
Smith’s education analogy isn’t surprising. His mother, Gertrude Kirkwood, was an educator and administrator in the Detroit City Schools. Raised by his mother, Smith grew up with a keen understanding and appreciation of a disciplined education process. Smith’s mother is now retired and resides in West Bloomfield, Mich.
Before joining NASA, Smith worked as a research engineer for Nielsen Engineering & Research in Mountain View, Calif.
Smith began his career with NASA in 1980 at Ames Research Center in Mountain View, conducting helicopter noise and vibration research. He held a variety of technical and management positions at Ames, including acting chief of the Aeronautical Technologies Divisions, assistant director of Aerophysics for Facilities, and executive assistant to the center director.
In 1999, Smith joined the Marshall Center. He was deputy manager of the Systems Engineering and Integration Office for the Space Launch Initiative prior to being named manager.
Smith graduated from the Detroit’s Redford High School. He received his bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in 1967, and earned both a master’ degree and a doctorate in aeronautics and astronautics from Stanford University in Stanford, Calif. His personal research areas are in the fields of aerodynamics and aeroacoustics.
Smith is a member of the American Helicopter Society, the American Physical Society and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. He recently received the aerospace engineer of the year award for the Alabama-Mississippi region from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
The Space Launch Initiative is NASA's technology research and development program aimed at dramatically increasing safety and reliability and reducing the cost of a second generation reusable launch vehicle. All NASA's field centers and the Air Force Research Laboratory are actively participating in the Space Launch Initiative and are vital to its success. The Marshall Center implements the Space Launch Initiative for NASA's Office of Aerospace Technology.
Additional information on NASA's Space Launch Initiative, including a list of the selected contractors, is available on the Internet at:
For more information:
For more information: