NPP Program Manager Profile
What does it mean to be the program manager for NPP?
Integrating five high-performance payloads from five different suppliers is a big challenge technically, logistically and programmatically. On top of that, the Ball Aerospace team implemented more than 200 changes over 10 years on a fixed-priced contract while continuing the momentum we had established. The customer spotlight burned bright on this team and I am proud to say that all of the various entities involved - from our customer, to the science team, to our instrument partners – consistently complimented the Ball team for maintaining focus, control and good performance. As the program manager, it doesn’t get any better than that.
What’s the most interesting thing about this mission?
The most interesting thing is the “right here, right now” value and visibility of the NPP science and data to our families and friends, the U.S. taxpayers, and citizens everywhere. This mission will provide the data for weather forecast models that we all read, watch, download and print-out to help our daily lives run smoothly. In addition, there are the short-term observations NPP will make of environmental events that we have come to recognize as major threats to life and property: tornadoes, hurricanes, major storms, heat and drought, as well as monitoring the ash plume from volcanoes.
What’s been your favorite part about working on NPP?
My favorite part was rubbing shoulders with the best and brightest from the sponsoring government agencies, NASA-GSFC and NOAA-NESDIS. You also get to share the work with exemplary players in the field including Northrop Grumman, ITT, and Raytheon.
How did you end up in the aerospace industry?
Growing up in Boulder, I was interested in science and math and fascinated by astronauts (Boulder’s Scott Carpenter was my hero) and the Apollo missions, especially the moon-landings. Then, as I completed my education and graduated from college I found potential work opportunities at Dow Chemical, NOAA, the University of Colorado and Ball. I came to Ball first, hoping for a shot, and got a job working on the Infrared Astronomical Satellite. It was a dream come true and, it has gone straight up from there to NPP!
What the best part of working at Ball Aerospace?
The interesting work, continuing challenges, and the immediate sense of accomplishment keep me motivated to want to come to work each day. The people and the place make it the best job I could imagine having (except for being a river guide in the Grand Canyon and you can’t raise a family on that salary!)
What is one of the most exciting moments in your career so far?
When Ball’s Deep Impact spacecraft hit Comet Tempel 1. I was on the cell phone with my buddy, John, from Moab, Utah. He had a telescope set up on the mesa above Moab and was looking at the specified location in space. I was watching the NASA feed and updating him. When the time came for the impact, I was calling out the distances, but I forgot that my source was delayed by the downlink and transmission time. He let out a yell and said, “I just saw something,” and I looked at the feed on my monitor, but didn’t see anything. Then, a couple of seconds later, I saw the impact on my screen! It was so exciting to witness that event and, to share it with friends and family. I was so proud of the work done by Ball Aerospace.
What is one yet-to-be achieved life goal?
To raft the Colorado River from source to end in a single stretch of time.
What do you do in your spare time?
River rafting, traveling, camping, yard work, volleyball, kids and grandkids, and hitting the dance floor with my favorite gal – my wife Pam.