Imperative Space helped to arrange a series of lectures by leading Shuttle engineer Matt Melis, at venues around the UK during October 2011. The events included talks at the London Science Festival (introduced by Chris Riley), BIS and Astrium.
The Space Shuttle is the most complicated machine designed and built by human beings. An extraordinary team of thousands has tirelessly committed itself to safely flying this vehicle since 1981. Thirty years and 135 missions after STS-1, the final Shuttle mission lifted off from Kennedy Space Center on July 8, 2011.
Matt Melis provides a look into the inner workings of the Space Shuttle and a behind the scenes perspective on the impact analysis and testing done for the Columbia Accident Investigation and NASA’s Return to Flight programs. His presentation is full of rich, still and motion picture imagery, and, although technical, is easily understood by all audiences. In addition, highlights from recent Shuttle missions are presented, demonstrating how NASA conducts it’s operations differently today as a consequence of the lessons learned from Challenger and Columbia.
Matt has worked at the NASA Glenn Research Center for twenty six years. His primary area of focus is in advanced finite element modeling and analysis methods including nonlinear and dynamic impact loading. Trained in engineering mechanics, he has been recognized for expertise in actively cooled structures, stress analysis, ballistic impact research, and multiphysics analysis during his tenure at the Research Center. He has worked on numerous aeronautics and space programs for the agency including the International Space Station, the Space Shuttle and NASA’s Exploration Program. In the four and one half years that followed the Columbia accident, Matt was assigned full time to working the Columbia Accident Investigation and the Shuttle Return to Flight Program as technical lead of the NASA Glenn Ballistic Impact team.
In addition to his technical commitments, Matt also devotes significant effort to public outreach and teaching for NASA at all levels of education as well as professional groups. Since 2003, he has delivered dozens of invited lectures and keynote presentations at conferences pertaining to Ballistic Impact Research, The Columbia Accident Investigation, NASA’s Return to Flight and the Space Shuttle Program.