Jump to content

Electro-luminescently Cooled Zero-boil-off Propellant Depots Enabling Crewed Exploration of Mars


Recommended Posts

  • Publishers

3 min read

Preparations for Next Moonwalk Simulations Underway (and Underwater)

Artist rendition of labeled diagram Electro-luminescently cooled zero-boil-off propellant depots
Graphic depiction of Electro-luminescently cooled zero-boil-off propellant depots enabling crewed exploration of Mars
Aaswath Pattabhi Raman

Aaswath Pattabhi Raman
University of California, Los Angeles

Exploration of Mars has captivated the public in recent decades with high-profile robotic missions and the images they have acquired seeding our collective imagination. NASA is actively planning for human exploration of Mars and laid out some of the key capabilities that must be developed to execute successful, cost-effective programs that would put human beings on the surface of another planet and bring them home safely. One crucial area where new missions and enabling technologies are needed is the long-duration storage of cryogenic propellants in various space environments; relevant propellants include liquid Hydrogen (LH2) for high specific impulse Nuclear Thermal Propulsion (NTP) which can be deployed in strategic locations in advance of a mission. Such LH2 storage tanks could be used to refill a crewed Mars Transfer Vehicle (MTV) to send and bring astronauts home quickly, safely, and cost-effectively.

We propose a breakthrough mission concept: a cryogenic liquid storage depot capable of storing LH2 with ZBO even in the severe and fluctuating thermal environment of LEO. Our innovative storage depot mission employs thin, lightweight, all-solid-state panels attached to the tank’s deep-space-facing surfaces that utilize a long-understood but as-yet-unrealized cooling technology known as Electro-Luminescent Cooling (ELC) to reject heat from cold solid surfaces as non-equilibrium thermal radiation with orders of magnitude more power density than Planck’s Law permits for equilibrium thermal radiation. Such a depot and tank would drastically lower the cost and complexity of propulsion systems for crewed Mars missions and other deep space exploration by allowing spacecraft to refill propellant tanks after reaching orbit rather than launching on the much larger rocket required to lift the spacecraft in a single-use stage. To achieve ZBO, a storage spacecraft must keep the storage tank’s temperature below the boiling point of the cryogen

(e.g., ≈20 K for liquid H2). Achieving this in LEO-like thermal environments requires both excellent reflectivity toward sunlight and thermal radiation from the Earth and other nearby bodies as well as a power-efficient cooling mechanism to remove what little heat inevitably does leak in, a pair of conditions ideally suited to the the ELC panel concept that enables our mission. By enabling ZBO LH2 storage in LEO, our mission will enable cost-effective, and flexible crewed exploration of Mars. Our mission will also demonstrate capabilities with ancillary benefits to cryogenic storage in terrestrial applications and solid-state cooling technologies more generally.

2024 Phase I Selection

View the full article

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Similar Topics

    • By NASA
      6 min read
      Preparations for Next Moonwalk Simulations Underway (and Underwater)
      The specks in this scene were caused by charged particles from a solar storm hitting a camera aboard NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover. Curiosity uses its navigation cameras to try and capture images of dust devils and wind gusts, like the one seen here.NASA/JPL-Caltech NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover captured black-and-white streaks and specks using one of its navigation cameras just as particles from a solar storm arrived on the Martian surface. These visual artifacts are caused by energetic particles hitting the camera’s image detector.NASA/JPL-Caltech In addition to producing auroras, a recent extreme storm provided more detail on how much radiation future astronauts could encounter on the Red Planet.
      Mars scientists have been anticipating epic solar storms ever since the Sun entered a period of peak activity earlier this year called solar maximum. Over the past month, NASA’s Mars rovers and orbiters have provided researchers with front-row seats to a series of solar flares and coronal mass ejections that have reached Mars — in some cases, even causing Martian auroras.
      This science bonanza has offered an unprecedented opportunity to study how such events unfold in deep space, as well as how much radiation exposure the first astronauts on Mars could encounter.
      The biggest event occurred on May 20 with a solar flare later estimated to be an X12 — X-class solar flares are the strongest of several types — based on data from the Solar Orbiter spacecraft, a joint mission between ESA (European Space Agency) and NASA. The flare sent out X-rays and gamma rays toward the Red Planet, while a subsequent coronal mass ejection launched charged particles. Moving at the speed of light, the X-rays and gamma rays from the flare arrived first, while the charged particles trailed slightly behind, reaching Mars in just tens of minutes.
      The unfolding space weather was closely tracked by analysts at the Moon to Mars Space Weather Analysis Office at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, which flagged the possibility of incoming charged particles following the coronal mass ejection.
      If astronauts had been standing next to NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover at the time, they would have received a radiation dose of 8,100 micrograys — equivalent to 30 chest X-rays. While not deadly, it was the biggest surge measured by Curiosity’s Radiation Assessment Detector, or RAD, since the rover landed 12 years ago.
      To view this video please enable JavaScript, and consider upgrading to a web browser that supports HTML5 video
      The purple color in this video shows auroras on Mars’ nightside as detected by the ultraviolet instrument aboard NASA’s MAVEN orbiter between May 14 and 20, 2024. The brighter the purple, the more auroras that were present.NASA/University of Colorado/LASP RAD’s data will help scientists plan for the highest level of radiation exposure that might be encountered by astronauts, who could use on the Martian landscape for protection.
      “Cliffsides or lava tubes would provide additional shielding for an astronaut from such an event. In Mars orbit or deep space, the dose rate would be significantly more,” said RAD’s principal investigator, Don Hassler of Southwest Research Institute’s Solar System Science and Exploration Division in Boulder, Colorado. “I wouldn’t be surprised if this active region on the Sun continues to erupt, meaning even more solar storms at both Earth and Mars over the coming weeks.”
      During the May 20 event, so much energy from the storm struck the surface that black-and-white images from Curiosity’s navigation cameras danced with “snow” — white streaks and specks caused by charged particles hitting the cameras.
      Similarly, the star camera NASA’s 2001 Mars Odyssey orbiter uses for orientation was inundated with energy from solar particles, momentarily going out. (Odyssey has other ways to orient itself, and recovered the camera within an hour.) Even with the brief lapse in its star camera, the orbiter collected vital data on X-rays, gamma rays, and charged particles using its High-Energy Neutron Detector.
      This wasn’t Odyssey’s first brush with a solar flare: In 2003, solar particles from a solar flare that was ultimately estimated to be an X45 fried Odyssey’s radiation detector, which was designed to measure such events.
      Learn how NASA’s MAVEN and the agency’s Curiosity rover will study solar flares and radiation at Mars during solar maximum – a period when the Sun is at peak activity. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSFC/SDO/MSSS/University of Colorado Auroras Over Mars
      High above Curiosity, NASA’s MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN) orbiter captured another effect of the recent solar activity: glowing auroras over the planet. The way these auroras occur is different than those seen on Earth.
      Our home planet is shielded from charged particles by a robust magnetic field, which normally limits auroras to regions near the poles. (Solar maximum is the reason behind the recent auroras seen as far south as Alabama.) Mars lost its internally generated magnetic field in the ancient past, so there’s no protection from the barrage of energetic particles. When charged particles hit the Martian atmosphere, it results in auroras that engulf the entire planet.
      During solar events, the Sun releases a wide range of energetic particles. Only the most energetic can reach the surface to be measured by RAD. Slightly less energetic particles, those that cause auroras, are sensed by MAVEN’s Solar Energetic Particle instrument.
      Scientists can use that instrument’s data to rebuild a timeline of each minute as the solar particles screamed past, meticulously teasing apart how the event evolved.
      “This was the largest solar energetic particle event that MAVEN has ever seen,” said MAVEN Space Weather Lead, Christina Lee of the University of California, Berkeley’s Space Sciences Laboratory. “There have been several solar events in past weeks, so we were seeing wave after wave of particles hitting Mars.”
      New Spacecraft to Mars
      The data coming in from NASA’s spacecraft won’t only help future planetary missions to the Red Planet. It’s contributing to a wealth of information being gathered by the agency’s other heliophysics missions, including Voyager, Parker Solar Probe, and the forthcoming ESCAPADE (Escape and Plasma Acceleration and Dynamics Explorers) mission.
      Targeting a late-2024 launch, ESCAPADE’s twin small satellites will orbit Mars and observe space weather from a unique dual perspective that is more detailed than what MAVEN can currently measure alone.
      More About the Missions
      Curiosity was built by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which is managed by Caltech in Pasadena, California. JPL leads the mission on behalf of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.
      MAVEN’s principal investigator is based at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) at the University of Colorado Boulder. LASP is also responsible for managing science operations and public outreach and communications. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the MAVEN mission. Lockheed Martin Space built the spacecraft and is responsible for mission operations. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California provides navigation and Deep Space Network support. The MAVEN team is preparing to celebrate the spacecraft’s 10th year at Mars in September 2024.
      For more about these missions, visit:
      News Media Contacts
      Andrew Good
      Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
      Karen Fox / Charles Blue
      NASA Headquarters, Washington
      202-358-1600 / 202-802-5345
      karen.c.fox@nasa.gov / charles.e.blue@nasa.gov
      Last Updated Jun 10, 2024 Related Terms
      Mars Curiosity (Rover) Goddard Space Flight Center Jet Propulsion Laboratory MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN) Explore More
      3 min read PACE Celebrates National Ocean Month With Colorful Views of the Planet
      Article 3 days ago 2 min read Hubble Examines a Barred Spiral’s Light
      This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image features the barred spiral galaxy NGC 3059, which lies…
      Article 3 days ago 4 min read Jonathan Lunine Appointed Chief Scientist of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory
      Article 4 days ago Keep Exploring Discover Related Topics
      Humans in Space
      Climate Change
      Solar System
      View the full article
    • By European Space Agency
      ESA’s ExoMars and Mars Express missions have spotted water frost for the first time near Mars’s equator, a part of the planet where it was thought impossible for frost to exist.
      View the full article
    • By NASA
      NASA is moving forward with ten studies to examine more affordable and faster methods of bringing samples from Mars’ surface back to Earth as part of the agency’s Mars Sample Return Program. As part of this effort, NASA will award a firm-fixed-price contract for up to $1.5 million to conduct 90-day studies to seven industry proposers.
      Additionally, NASA centers, CalTech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Johns Hopkins’ Applied Physics Laboratory are producing studies. Once completed, NASA will assess all studies to consider alterations or enhancements to the Mars Sample Return architecture.
      “Mars Sample Return will be one of the most complex missions NASA has undertaken, and it is critical that we carry it out more quickly, with less risk, and at a lower cost,” said Nelson. “I’m excited to see the vision that these companies, centers and partners present as we look for fresh, exciting, and innovative ideas to uncover great cosmic secrets from the Red Planet.”
      Over the last quarter century, NASA has engaged in a systematic effort to determine the early history of Mars and how it can help us understand the formation and evolution of habitable worlds, including Earth. As part of that effort, Mars Sample Return has been a long-term goal of international planetary exploration for the past two decades. NASA’s Perseverance rover has been collecting samples for later collection and return to Earth since it landed on Mars in 2021.
      The following companies and proposals were selected from among those that responded to an April 15 request for proposals:
      Lockheed Martinin Littleton, Colorado: “Lockheed Martin Rapid Mission Design Studies for Mars Sample Return” SpaceX in Hawthorne, California: “Enabling Mars Sample Return With Starship” Aerojet Rocketdyne in Huntsville, Alabama: “A High-Performance Liquid Mars Ascent Vehicle, Using Highly Reliable and Mature Propulsion Technologies, to Improve Program Affordability and Schedule” Blue Origin in Monrovia, California: “Leveraging Artemis for Mars Sample Return” Quantum Space, in Rockville, Maryland: “Quantum Anchor Leg Mars Sample Return Study” Northrop Grumman in Elkton, Maryland: “High TRL MAV Propulsion Trades and Concept Design for MSR Rapid Mission Design” Whittinghill Aerospace in Camarillo, California: “A Rapid Design Study for the MSR Single Stage Mars Ascent Vehicle” NASA’s Mars Sample Return is a strategic partnership with ESA (the European Space Agency). Returning scientifically selected samples to Earth for study using the most sophisticated instruments around the world can revolutionize our understanding of Mars and would fulfill one of the highest priority solar system exploration goals as identified by the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine.
      For more information on Mars Sample Return, visit:
      Dewayne Washington
      Headquarters, Washington
      Last Updated Jun 07, 2024 LocationNASA Headquarters View the full article
    • By NASA
      A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft aboard launches from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Wednesday, June 5, 2024, in Florida. NASA’s Boeing Crew Flight Test is the first launch with astronauts of the Boeing spacecraft and United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket to the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.Credits: NASA/Joel Kowsky NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams are safely in orbit on the first crewed flight test aboard Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft bound for the International Space Station.
      As part of NASA’s Boeing Crew Flight Test, the astronauts lifted off at 10:52 a.m. EDT Wednesday on a ULA (United Launch Alliance) Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on an end-to-end test of the Starliner system.
      “Two bold NASA astronauts are well on their way on this historic first test flight of a brand-new spacecraft,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “Boeing’s Starliner marks a new chapter of American exploration. Human spaceflight is a daring task – but that’s why it’s worth doing. It’s an exciting time for NASA, our commercial partners, and the future of exploration. Go Starliner, Go Butch and Suni!”
      As part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, the flight test will help validate the transportation system, launch pad, rocket, spacecraft, in-orbit operations capabilities, and return to Earth with astronauts aboard as the agency prepares to certify Starliner for rotational missions to the space station. Starliner previously flew two uncrewed orbital flights, including a test to and from the space station, along with a pad abort demonstration.
      “With Starliner’s launch, separation from the rocket, and arrival on orbit, Boeing’s Crew Flight Test is right on track,” said Mark Nappi, vice president and program manager of Boeing’s Commercial Crew Program. “Everyone is focused on giving Suni and Butch a safe, comfortable, ride and performing a successful test mission from start to finish.”
      During Starliner’s flight, Boeing will monitor a series of automatic spacecraft maneuvers from its mission control center in Houston. NASA teams will monitor space station operations throughout the flight from the Mission Control Center at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
      “Flying crew on Starliner represents over a decade of work by the Commercial Crew Program and our partners at Boeing and ULA,” said Steve Stich, manager, Commercial Crew Program, at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. “For many of us, this is a career-defining moment bringing on a new crew transportation capability for our agency and our nation. We are going to take it one step at a time, putting Starliner through its paces, and remaining vigilant until Butch and Suni safely touch down back on Earth at the conclusion of this test flight.”
      Starliner will autonomously dock to the forward-facing port of the station’s Harmony module at approximately 12:15 p.m. Thursday, June 6, and remain at the orbital laboratory for about a week.
      Wilmore and Williams will help verify the spacecraft is performing as intended by testing the environmental control system, the displays and control system, and by maneuvering the thrusters, among other tests during flight.
      After a safe arrival at the space station, Wilmore and Williams will join the Expedition 71 crew of NASA astronauts Michael Barratt, Matt Dominick, Tracy C. Dyson, and Jeanette Epps, and Roscosmos cosmonauts Nikolai Chub, Alexander Grebenkin, and Oleg Kononenko.
      NASA’s arrival and in-flight event coverage is as follows (all times Eastern and subject to change based on real-time operations):
      Mission coverage will continue on NASA Television channels throughout Starliner’s flight and resume on NASA+ prior to docking.
      Thursday, June 6
      9:30 a.m. – Arrival coverage begins on NASA+, the NASA app, and YouTube, and continues on NASA Television and the agency’s website.
      12:15 p.m. – Targeted docking
      2 p.m. – Hatch opening
      2:20 p.m. – Welcome remarks
      3:30 p.m. – Post-docking news conference at NASA Johnson with the following participants:
      NASA Associate Administrator Jim Free Steve Stich, manager, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program Jeff Arend, manager for systems engineering and integration, NASA’s International Space Station Office Mark Nappi, vice president and program manager, Commercial Crew Program, Boeing Coverage of the post-docking news conference will air live on NASA+, NASA Television, the NASA app, YouTube, and the agency’s website.
      5:50 p.m. – NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy, Associate Administrator Jim Free, Associate Administrator for Space Operations Ken Bowersox, and Johnson Space Center Director Vanessa Wyche will speak with Wilmore and Williams about their launch aboard the Starliner spacecraft.
      Coverage of the Earth to space call will air live on NASA+, NASA Television, the NASA app, YouTube, and the agency’s website.
      Saturday, June 8
      8:50 a.m. – NASA astronauts Wilmore and Williams will provide a tour of Starliner.
      Coverage of the in-orbit event will stream live on NASA+, NASA Television, the NASA app, YouTube, and the agency’s website.
      Monday, June 10
      11 a.m. – Williams will speak to students from Sunita L. Williams Elementary School in Needham, Massachusetts, in an event aboard the space station.
      Coverage of the Earth to space call will air live on NASA+, NASA Television, the NASA app, YouTube, and the agency’s website.
      Tuesday, June 11
      3:15 p.m. – Wilmore will speak to students from Tennessee Tech University in an event aboard the space station.
      Coverage of the Earth to space call will air live on NASA+, NASA Television, the NASA app, YouTube, and the agency’s website.
      Meet NASA’s Crew
      Wilmore is the commander for the mission. A veteran of two spaceflights, Wilmore has 178 days in space under his belt. In 2009, he served as a pilot aboard space shuttle Atlantis for the STS-129 mission. Additionally, Wilmore served as a flight engineer for Expedition 41 until November 2014, when he assumed command of the space station after arrival of the Expedition 42 crew. He returned to Earth the following March. Prior to his selection by NASA in 2000, the father of two obtained both his bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Tennessee Technological University, Cookeville, before graduating with another master’s degree in Aviation Systems from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He is also a graduate of the United States Naval Test Pilot School, Patuxent River, Maryland, and has completed four operational deployments during his tenure as a fleet naval officer and aviator.
      Williams is the spacecraft pilot for the flight test. Williams has spent 322 days in space across two missions: Expedition 14/15 in 2006 through 2007, and Expedition 32/33 in 2012. The Massachusetts native also conducted seven spacewalks, totaling 50 hours and 40 minutes. Before her career began with NASA in 1998, Williams graduated with her bachelor’s degree in Physical Science from the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, before obtaining her master’s degree in Engineering Management from the Florida Institute of Technology, Melbourne. In total, she has logged more than 3,000 flight hours in over 30 different aircraft.
      NASA’s Commercial Crew Program has delivered on its goal of safe, reliable, and cost-effective transportation to and from the International Space Station from the United States through a partnership with American private industry. This partnership is changing the arc of human spaceflight history by opening access to low Earth orbit and the space station to more people, science, and commercial opportunities. The space station remains the springboard to NASA’s next great leap in space exploration, including future missions to the Moon under Artemis and, eventually, Mars.
      Learn more about NASA’s Commercial Crew program at:
      Josh Finch / Jimi Russell / Claire O’Shea
      Headquarters, Washington
      joshua.a.finch@nasa.gov / james.j.russell@nasa.gov / claire.a.o’shea@nasa.gov
      Steven Siceloff / Danielle Sempsrott / Stephanie Plucinsky
      Kennedy Space Center, Florida
      steven.p.siceloff@nasa.gov / danielle.c.sempsrott@nasa.gov / stephanie.n.plucinsky@nasa.gov
      Leah Cheshier
      Johnson Space Center, Houston
      Last Updated Jun 05, 2024 LocationNASA Headquarters Related Terms
      Commercial Crew Commercial Space Humans in Space International Space Station (ISS) ISS Research Space Operations Mission Directorate View the full article
    • By NASA
      From pioneering space initiatives to championing diversity and innovation, Shirley Holland-Hunt’s multifaceted leadership at NASA exemplifies the future of aerospace exploration. Her efforts have driven technological advancements and advocated for the inclusion of women and minorities in STEM fields. 

      Holland-Hunt currently serves as the associate division chief for Houston’s Johnson Space Center Aeroscience and Flight Mechanics Division, where she drives engineering design, development, testing, and evaluation for all phases of space flight.  

      She supports the identification and establishment of center partnerships and Space Act Agreements that drive the research and development of new space exploration technology. Holland-Hunt also coordinates business activities and workforce development, including planning, programming, budgeting, and execution, as well as facility management and Johnson’s diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility initiatives. 

      Holland-Hunt was a member of the Dare | Unite | Explore team that launched the “Propel the Space Economy Coalition” initiative, which supports the sustainable growth of the global space economy.  
      Official portrait of Shirley Holland-Hunt. Credit: NASA/James Blair As an alumna of Prairie View A&M University, a Historically Black College and University, Holland-Hunt holds a bachelor of science in Electrical Engineering and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Phoenix. She helped develop Johnson’s first Request for Information document, showcasing her pivotal role in advancing the center’s initiatives to collect data that inform future procurement actions. 

      She also spearheaded initiatives to promote women in leadership roles. She founded the networking group “The Women of ES” within the Structural Engineering Division to help women leaders seek opportunities and gain promotions. Additionally, she launched “The Women of EG” within the Aeroscience and Flight Mechanics Division, which conducts outreach to schools to encourage girls to pursue STEM careers. 

      “Each division leaves its own footprint,” she said. “Sometimes you need those small entities within a culture because the issues are different, the people are different. It’s so fulfilling to be a part of these outreach activities and see the outcome.” 
      Shirley Holland-Hunt leads a discussion at a STEM outreach event for Brownsville Independent School District. Holland-Hunt emphasizes the importance of persistence and continuous learning in your career. “Every little thing that you do or contribute to is huge. You might not see the results right away, but there is an outcome.” 

      She motivates students interested in pursuing space exploration careers to recognize their skills, know their worth, and work hard. “Strive to do your best daily but know that things are going to happen. Just be the best you can be.” 

      One of her core beliefs is to treat others with respect and acknowledge that diversity of thought is a strength. “Different means that somebody has a different way of thinking than you do, and that is a plus.” 
      Shirley Holland-Hunt at a NASA Pathways internship outreach event at Prairie View A&M University. Holland-Hunt is also involved in a discovery program at her church, educating young girls about careers in STEM and supporting minority students pursuing graduate programs in those fields. She recalls teachers doubting her potential to become an engineer. “I don’t want another little girl to hear that she can’t be something that she wants to be,” she said. 

      Her advice to women is to embrace new challenges without fear. “Learn and grow in everything you do. Don’t be afraid to move around in your career. You don’t need to have 100% of the skills to do it,” said Holland-Hunt. “Networking is also important—get to know people who can make a positive impact on your life.” 
      Shirley Holland-Hunt at a Texas Independent School District STEM outreach event in Galveston. Reflecting on her career, Holland-Hunt shares, “I started at NASA in a technical field but learned later that I have a passion for people, which was shocking because I always thought I was shy and an introvert. Now, I have a passion for seeing people grow and giving back in any way I can.” 

      Holland-Hunt worked in flight software and avionics for the Space Shuttle Program, which she said was her favorite program to work on at NASA. “When the program ended, I had to figure out how to use my background at Johnson for future capabilities,” she said. “That is the great part of working at NASA; there are many opportunities that bring together a range of people and perspectives to foster innovation.” 

      Holland-Hunt’s previous role managing a materials and processing group helped overcome her initial fear that her technical knowledge would hinder her ability to manage people. “I empowered everyone in that group with the respect I had for their work. They could teach me, and we trusted and learned from each other,” she said. “I know that I’m working with the best engineers in the world, and I learn so much from everyone that I work with.” 

      She believes that challenging herself and moving to different programs has revealed her hidden strengths and talents. “Knowing yourself is very important to be successful.” 
      Shirley Holland-Hunt in front of NASA’s Space Exploration Vehicle at Johnson Space Center in Houston. Holland-Hunt is also a member of the Ensemble Theatre in Houston, Texas, which aims to preserve African American artistic expression. She and her husband enjoy attending car shows and driving her 1972 Pontiac GTO. 

      Coming from a large family of eight, with a father who was a sharecropper, Holland-Hunt helped her family pick cotton. Despite her parents not graduating from junior high school, she and her eight siblings graduated from college, with five becoming engineers. Her husband also works for Axiom Space, one of the agency’s commercial space partners. 

      Holland-Hunt believes that experiencing adversity at a young age developed her character. “My parents always told me to be the best we can be and to love ourselves. That made us feel special and empowered me to do great things,” she said. “We never got new books, but we never saw it as a reason not to learn or excel. It teaches you to work with what you have. Now, when challenges come, I think, ‘That’s nothing. I’ve lived through worse.’” 
      View the full article
  • Check out these Videos

  • Create New...