On 1 February, 2003, the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated over Texas and Louisiana as it re-entered the Earth's atmosphere, killing all seven crew members. A lengthy and meticulous investigation determined that during the launch a piece of foam insulation broke off from the Space Shuttle external tank and struck the left wing of the orbiter. The resulting damage allowed hot atmospheric gases to penetrate and destroy the internal wing structure, which caused the spacecraft to become unstable and slowly break apart. NASA managers limited the investigation, reasoning that the crew could not have fixed the problem if it had been confirmed.
After the disaster, Space Shuttle flight operations were suspended for more than two years, similar to the aftermath of the Challenger disaster. Construction of the International Space Station (ISS) was put on hold; the station relied entirely on the Russian Roscosmos State Corporation for resupply for 29 months until Shuttle flights resumed with STS-114 and 41 months for crew rotation until STS-121.
Several technical and organizational changes were made, including adding a thorough on-orbit inspection to determine how well the shuttle's thermal protection system had endured the ascent, and keeping a designated rescue mission ready in case irreparable damage was found. Except for one final mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope, subsequent missions were flown only to the ISS so that the crew could use it as a haven in case damage to the orbiter prevented safe reentry.
As a major part of the Return to Flight effort and subsequent operations, NASA developed the capability to use radar to observe the Shuttle stack as it ascended into orbit, the purpose of which was to monitor debris events that occurred during that critical phase of flight. To make this work required a lot of coordination between NASA, the Navy, and the Air Force. To add to the mix, although the Shuttle was certified for flight operations, it had no measured performance indicating it could safely be exposed to radar frequency energy sufficiently strong enough to provide useful information during the ascent.
This presentation will relate the story of why it was necessary to monitor for debris events, and how it was demonstrated that radar could be used successfully for that purpose.
Dr. Brian M. Kent joined Applied Research Associates (ECD, Fairborn, Ohio office) as Senior Scientist and S&T Lead for Electro-magnetics (EM), Radio Frequency (RF), and Sensing Systems. ARA is an employee-owned scientific research and engineering company founded in 1979 and dedicated to producing innovative solutions that tackle critical national problems in National Security, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment, and Health Solutions. (www.ARA.com) Dr. Kent will support corporate ARA technical efforts, and will work to expand S&T opportunities in his area of expertise. In addition, Dr. Kent continues to serve as Adjunct Professor of Electrical Engineering with Michigan State University's Department of Electrical Engineering. Dr. Kent is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineering (IEEE) and an international IEEE Distinguished Lecturer for the Antenna and Propagation Society (APS). He is also a Fellow of the Antenna Measurement Techniques Association (AMTA) and of the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL). In 2009, he was a Meritorious Presidential Rank Awardee.
Previously, Dr. Kent was a member of the scientific and professional cadre of senior executives, as the Chief Technology Officer, Air Force Research Laboratory, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. He served as AFRL's principle scientific/technical advisor and primary authority for the technical content of the Science and Technology Portfolio. He evaluated the total Laboratory technical research program to determine its adequacy and efficiency in meeting national, DOD, USAF, AFMC, and AFRL objectives in core technical competency areas. He identified research gaps and analyzed advancements in a broad variety of scientific fields to advise on the their impact on Laboratory programs and objectives. He recommended new initiatives and adjustments to current programs required to meet current and future Air Force needs.
As such, he is an internationally recognized scientific expert, and provides authoritarian counsel and advice to AFRL management and the professional staff as well as to other government organizations. He also collaborates on numerous interdisciplinary research problems that encompass multiple AFRL directorates, customers from other DOD components, as well as the manned space program managed by NASA.
His technical specialties include EM Scattering and material property measurements, Radar, Antenna, and Radar Cross Section Measurements, Radar Performance Evaluation, RF/EO Sensing Technologies, and Passive/Active Electronic Warfare.
Dr. Robert Scully holds a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Arlington in Electrical Engineering with strong emphasis in electromagnetics. He is an IEEE Fellow, a registered Professional Engineer in the state of Texas, a licensed commercial (PG-12-27194) and amateur (KG5KVV) radio operator, holds various Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) certifications from the University of Missouri-Rolla (now Missouri University of Science and Technology) and iNARTE, and is a member of Tau Beta Pi and Eta Kappa Nu.
Dr. Scully holds a Federal GS15 rating, and is the Johnson Space Center Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) Group Lead Engineer, serving as the technical lead for EMC at the Center. He is also the lead for the Community of Practice for EMC within the Agency. Dr. Scully supports NASA’s major programs including the International Space Station, the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, and the Commercial Crew Development Program, providing expertise and guidance in development of tailored electromagnetic compatibility specifications, including control plans, interference control testing methodologies, ESD control, and lightning protection and test.
Within the IEEE EMC Society, Dr. Scully is currently serving as the Immediate Past President of the Society. He previously served in all Officer Positions for the Technical Activities Committee, Technical Committee 1, Technical Committee 4, was Vice Pres of Technical Services, and most recently was the President of the Society. Dr. Scully is also an Associate Editor for the IEEE Transactions on EMC, and is currently serving as the founder and Chair of the Galveston Bay/Houston EMC Chapter.
Dr. Christian Bornkessel was born in Berlin, Germany, in 1965. He received his Dipl.-Ing. degree in 1990 from the Technical University of Ilmenau, Germany and his Dr.-Ing. degree in 1993 from the University of Karlsruhe, Germany.
From 1991 to 1995, he worked as a research assistant at the Institute for High Frequency Techniques and Electronics at Karlsruhe University in the field of numerical analysis of Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) aspects.
From 1995 to 2014, he was with IMST GmbH, Kamp-Lintfort, Germany, where he worked as the head of the Test Center since 2010. He was responsible for the planning, implementation, accreditation and operation of an accredited EMC test center.
Since 2014, he is with Technische Universität Ilmenau, RF and Microwave Research Laboratory. There, he is responsible for a novel nearfield measurement facility called “VISTA” (Virtual Street). His current activities involve radio based car communication (V2X) as well as EMC aspects with a focus on human exposure to RF and LF electromagnetic fields.
He is author and co-author of about 100 contributions to peer reviewed journals and international conference proceedings, and he is a member of the German Commission on Radiological Protection and the ITG technical committee 7.1 “antennas”.
Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), otherwise known as drones or UAVs, have become indispensable tools in security, entertainment, and research but we are just beginning to understand their collective capabilities in unstructured swarms and clusters. This talk will examine some of the pioneering research into the development of experimental test-beds, analysis tools, and reconfigurable antenna technologies developed to study the behavior of these unique systems-of-systems.
Gregory H. Huff has range of experience in applied electromagnetics and multidisciplinary systems engineering, and he has received numerous accolades for his work in this area. This includes reconfigurable RF and microwave antennas as well as other adaptive electromagnetic devices to support UAS control and communication in networked clusters of UAS.
Prof. Huff is also active in the design of superconfigurable systems for UAS, where he has been focusing on integrative autonomous vehicle concepts for air, ground, and water applications that integrate electromagnetic subsystems into the structural or aerodynamic systems. This work has demonstrated several key concepts for UAS that have enable networked operation of clusters of autonomous mobile wireless agents that morph their distribution over time, and provide distributed sensing/localization in complex and dynamic environments. This talk will focus on the development of MEDUSA, which is a computer vision-assisted phased array controller that was engineered to study the behavior of unstructured volumetric arrays in morphing clusters.
Professor Huff received his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, in 2000, 2003, and 2006, respectively. He has been with the Electromagnetics and Microwave Laboratory in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Texas A&M University in College Station, TX since 2006 and is currently at the rank of Associate Professor. Prior to his academic activities, Prof. Huff apprenticed professionally and attained the rank of Chef de Cuisine with specializations in French and Mediterranean fare. In his current role, he was a recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) award through the Department of Defense in 2008 for UAS-related research and the NSF CAREER award in that same year for bio-inspired research. Prof. Huff is currently on the steering committee for the Center for Autonomous Vehicles and Sensor Systems (CANVASS) at Texas A&M University, where his current research in UAS blends concepts from material science engineering, aerospace engineering, and other focus areas. He examines biologically inspired concepts from the cuttlefish for reconfigurable antennas and smart skins in his work, as well as applications of tunable fluidic and nanoparticle material systems for sensing and collaborative beamforming in autonomous and unpiloted vehicles. He is also active in the development of other enabling technologies including the use of smartphones and tablets in embedded systems for adaptive wireless sensor networks, and mobile applications (‘apps’) which examine the role of interactive interfaces for UAS control algorithms and sensor data fusion.