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Behind the ScenesMeet the People

IMAGE: Bob Goss
Bob Goss is the Chief Engineer of the Flight Projects Directorate at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.

Bob Goss,
Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.

Bob Goss is responsible for the technical success of several key Marshall Center projects

Jan. 16, 2002 - Bob Goss, chief engineer of the Flight Projects Directorate at the Marshall Center, has been appointed to the government Senior Executive Service. Goss is responsible for the technical success of several key Marshall Center projects, including its International Space Station role.

As chief engineer, Goss is responsible for the technical success of several key Marshall Center projects, including the International Space Station, Space Station Environmental Control and Life Support Systems, Space Station Node modules, Multi Purpose Logistics Module, Lightweight Multi-Purpose Experiment Support Structure Carrier, and EXPRESS payload racks for the Space Station. He also oversees various advanced projects still under study, including solar power electrical stations in orbit that would provide power to the Earth by using microwave transmission.

The Senior Executive Service is the personnel system that covers most of the top managerial, supervisory and policy positions in the executive branch of the federal government.

Goss came to NASA for the reasons many have -- a fascination with the space program and an intense curiosity about how things work.

“In third grade, I was very interested in rockets and missiles and test pilots, as were a lot of other boys in the mid to late 1950s,” he said. “Three of us started to get interested, and we were always looking for an opportunity to give a report to the class about things like breaking the sound barrier and rocket planes. I was good at math and science and decided to be an engineer.”

Goss began his NASA career in 1966 as a Cooperative Education Program student in Marshall Center’s Aero-Astrodynamics Laboratory. After graduating from college, he returned to Marshall in 1970 in the Analytical Aerodynamic Design Branch, where he worked on Space Shuttle designs and other studies.

One of his most rewarding efforts was the development of a makeshift blanket to shield the Skylab space station from the Sun after its own shield was accidentally ripped off during launch. Goss’ job was to calculate the effect of the Apollo spacecraft’s steering thrusters on the paper-thin shielding of the makeshift blanket.

“I have a lot of curiosity about a lot of things in nature, physics and chemistry,” said Goss, recalling the challenges during his career. “I get a lot of satisfaction about solving problems and helping people solve problems.”

Throughout the 1970s and ‘80s, he worked on a variety of projects, such as heavy-lift launch vehicles, space power generation, orbital transfer vehicles, and space robotic servicing. Goss worked in the Space Station Project Office from 1985 to 1989, and then became Mission Chief Engineer for the Spacelab-J science mission aboard the Space Shuttle. Since that flight, he has held increasingly challenging jobs in the Chief Engineer Office, leading to his selection as chief engineer of the Flight Projects Directorate in 1997 and his leading technical role in the Space Station program.

“The biggest technical challenge of the Space Station program is the “tremendous number of interfaces you have to understand and making sure you meet all the requirements of those interfaces,” Goss said. “You have to be careful your design is safe, as well as successful.”

Goss is a native of Fort Myers, Fla. He holds a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. He has completed numerous executive and management-level training courses and has received several awards, including the Silver Snoopy Award and the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal.

Goss and his wife, Rose Ann, who works in the Marshall comptroller’s office, live in Huntsville. He is a member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and is a volunteer with Technology Assistance For Special Consumers and the Huntsville Track Club. The Marshall Center is NASA's lead center for development of space transportation and propulsion systems and advanced large optics manufacturing technology, as well as microgravity research — scientific research in the unique low-gravity environment inside the International Space Station and other spacecraft.

The Marshall Center also provided the Saturn V vehicle that took us to the Moon and developed the propulsion systems on the Space Shuttle.

All text and photos for this story were provided by Marshall Space Flight Center.

Curator: Kim Dismukes | Responsible NASA Official: John Ira Petty | Updated: 06/23/2003
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