Hubble Program Manager
Mark LaPole Ph.D. is the Hubble mission program manager for Ball Aerospace. LaPole received in Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineer in 1984, his Master of Science in Physics from in 1986, and his Doctor of Science in 1995. After spending six years in the U.S. Air Force working at Edwards Air Force Base in California, Cape Canaveral in Florida and at the Air Force Technical Applications Center in Florida, LaPole accepted a position at Ball in 1990. In addition to Hubble, he has been involved in an array of high-profile projects including the James Webb Space Telescope, Deep Impact, the Kepler Mission, CloudSat and CALIPSO.
What is the key technology built by Ball for the Hubble mission?
Ball was responsible for correcting the Hubble Telescope’s initial focus flaw, and it has built seven instruments, plus the repair and replacement hardware for two others. The company also has worked to improve service cycles by integrating more advanced modular systems. In the past, detectors and electronics on space missions such as the Hubble were more than five years behind the current state of technology. We have reduced this to around six months. In addition, Ball Aerospace has built two repair kits for existing instruments as well as two new optical instruments.
What’s the coolest thing about servicing mission four to Hubble?
The Ball Aerospace optics, when installed, will provide the space telescope with capabilities 30 to 50 times as great as at present. Hubble will steal the science headlines for a decade.
What is the best part of working at Ball Aerospace?
These are extremely exciting times. I am hooked on this line of work because it marries my love of physics with engineering. We are reaching beyond Einstein now. He would be amazed at what we have achieved.
How did you end up in the aerospace industry and why do you stay?
I was attracted by the Apollo moon program at age six. I still get to touch the flight hardware. I like dirty hands and the smell of jet fuel. I believe the work I do is important and it is changing our fundamental understanding of physics and the earth we inhabit.