Flowers Duncan is the project manager for the Spacelab Pallet
in the Flight Projects Directorate, Marshall Space Flight Center,
Marshall Space Flight Center,
Pallet manager loved space as a girl growing up in Montgomery, Ala.
July 17, 2001
- As a little girl growing up in Montgomery, Ala., Elaine Flowers
was more likely to be looking up at the stars than down at the flowers.
She's still doing that today: this week, Elaine Flowers Duncan is
watching as astronauts unload a special carrier that she helped
prepare for flight on the Space Shuttle Atlantis' trip to the International
and family always considered me 'spacey' and 'out there' as a child,"
said Duncan, project manager for the Spacelab Pallet in the Flight
Projects Directorate at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville,
working for NASA because I can be 'out there' -- working on 'spacey,'
cutting-edge technology that makes a real difference here on Earth."
On July 12,
the Spacelab Pallet -- managed by Duncan and her team at the Marshall
Center -- was launched on the Space Shuttle Atlantis, STS-104 mission.
It safely carried a new air resupply system to the International
Space Station inside the Shuttle's cargo bay. Duncan's team customized
the pallet to carry the special, high-pressure gas system that will
repressurize the new U.S. airlock -- a doorway for astronauts to
use during space walks, also delivered last week by the Shuttle.
great to see the hardware -- hardware that did such a good job supporting
Spacelab science payloads on the Shuttle -- continue the tradition
by carrying major components to our newest research facility, "
the Spacelab Logistics Pallet and taking advantage of the Marshall
Center's 20 years of successful experience assembling and operating
unpressurized carriers, Duncan and her team are making it less expensive
to transport Space Station components.
all the engineering, including design, development, test and evaluation
of the flight support equipment and the pallet to carry the hardware
safely on the Shuttle to the Station," said Duncan.
Shuttle mission, the Spacelab Pallet team is working at the Engineering
Support Room located inside the Payload Operations Center - the
command post for Space Station science operations at the Marshall
July 15, astronauts completed the first space walk -- successfully
attaching the airlock to the Space Station. During the next space
walk, scheduled for Tuesday, July 17, astronauts will install the
first two high-pressure gas tanks. While the Shuttle is docked with
the Station, the arm will be used to pick up the tanks and lift
them off the pallet. Astronauts then will attach the tanks to the
set of oxygen and nitrogen tanks will be removed from the pallet
and installed on the airlock during a space walk scheduled for Thursday,
July 19. Atlantis will bring the reusable pallet home when it returns
on July 23.
worked on special mechanisms to make it easier for the arm to remove
the gas tanks from the pallet and place them near the Station.
on this special Space Station delivery, Duncan had plenty of experience
planning and carrying out operations in space. When she joined NASA
in 1980, she worked at the Marshall Center as an operations engineer
planning experiment operations for several Spacelab missions - flights
of a science laboratory inside the Shuttle's payload bay. In 1988,
she served at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., as a program
manager who helped plan future operations aboard the Station.
In 1993, NASA
selected Duncan as an outstanding role model in science and engineering,
and she participated in a traveling museum display viewed across
the United States. She especially enjoys inspiring children to pursue
careers in science and engineering.
always loved science and mathematics," said Duncan. "I
want other children growing up in Alabama to know that working hard
at what you love is enjoyable and rewarding."
a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Alabama State University
in Montgomery in 1976, and a master's degree in urban systems engineering
from Howard University in Washington, D.C., in 1980. She is a graduate
of Jefferson Davis High School in Montgomery.
husband Donald Duncan and their two children, Wesley and Jasmine,
reside in Huntsville.
and photos for this story were provided by Marshall Space Flight