Reynolds (NASA/MSFC) |
Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.
native follows in parents' footsteps in space program
May 2003 -
David Reynolds was born with NASA in his blood. His parents worked
to support America's first ventures to space. Now, Reynolds, a Marshall
Center engineer, communicates with crews on the International Space
Station, and was the designer of a "tool holder" that
makes space jobs easier and safer.
was born with NASA in his blood. Growing up in a family in which
both his parents worked in America's space program, it's only fitting
the Auburn native would follow suit.
I was a little boy, I loved talking to my parents about what they
did and how they helped NASA take America to the Moon," Reynolds
recalled. "The chance to work at NASA and follow in their footsteps
was a dream come true."
In the 1960s,
David's mother, Marjean, was a charter member of the Marshall Space
Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. When Marshall was created in 1960,
Marjean Reynolds, along with many of her colleagues, transferred
from the Army Ballistic Missile Command in Huntsville to take a
position alongside many of NASA's first rocket team at Marshall.
David's father, George, also had a hand in space, designing hardware
for the Saturn V for one of NASA's contractors, Brown Engineering
Reynolds supports one of NASA's key programs: the International
Space Station. As a payload operations engineer in the Flight Projects
Directorate and as a payload communications manager in the Payload
Operations Center at Marshall -- the command post for all science
operations on the Space Station -- Reynolds is responsible for designing,
planning and carrying out operations for experiments on the orbiting
laboratory, being built and constructed in space by NASA, in partnership
with 15 nations.
makes my job so rewarding is seeing that the science gained from
experiments on the International Space Station helps us on Earth,
benefiting everything from better exercise equipment, to better
crop yields, to medical research," Reynolds said.
moved to Auburn when he was 2, and that's where he first became
fascinated with flying by "hanging out" at the local airport.
His parents still live in Auburn, but Reynolds' love for space flight
would eventually bring him back to Huntsville.
His is a career
path that began as an industrial design student at Auburn University.
In 1987, Reynolds came to work at the Marshall Center as a cooperative
education student, working as a visual information specialist designing
patches and logos for payloads flown on the Space Shuttle. After
graduation from Auburn two years later, Reynolds moved to Huntsville
to join NASA fulltime.
Less than a
decade later, in 1999, he became the lead systems engineer/implementation
manager for a piece of equipment he had worked on in conjunction
with industrial design students from Auburn University: the Payload
Equipment Restraint System (PERS). He considers this "portable
worksite" his biggest accomplishment, as it's earned him several
NASA certificates of appreciation. Astronauts and cosmonauts use
it today to secure cables, hand tools and odd-shaped items, so they
don't float away in the weightless environment of space.
job-related challenge came in 2001, when he was certified as a payload
communications manager. In just six months, he trained and learned
the day-to-day operations of the International Space Station in
order to communicate with the crew on orbit. As the crew worked
on various payloads in space, Reynolds was on the ground, ready
to answer any questions they had.
Getting to know a few astronauts and cosmonauts has its share of
fun, too. As a payload communications manager on Expedition Four,
or the fourth crew on the Space Station, David worked closely with
crewmembers Yuri Onufrienko, Dan Bursh and Carl Waltz.
nickname was Elvis, and he would occasionally talk to me with an
Elvis accent…'Thank you, thank you very much,'' Reynolds said,
recreating the mimic. Reynolds also played Jimmy Buffet trivia with
Bursh, who is a fellow fan of the singer.
When he's not
busy designing equipment for the Space Station, Reynolds designs
unique Earth-based houses made with a variety of materials. Most
are just on paper, said Reynolds. He's never really considered building
any of them.
For now, he's
just happy building the bridge to space exploration.
and photos for this story were provided by Marshall Space Flight