Systems Engineering Seminar

The History Of Satellite Servicing At GSFC

Presented by:
Frank Cepollina,
Deputy Associate Director for the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) Development Project /442

May 2, 2006, 1:00 p.m.
Building 3 Auditorium

The History Of Satellite Servicing At GSFC

Mr. Cepollina will cover the history of spacecraft servicing from the late 1960s to the present and will give his view of the future of servicing both from the GSFC and the NASA perspectives.

"The value of foresight and wisdom, and the lack thereof."



Mr. Frank Cepollina serves as Deputy Associate Director for the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) Development Project at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) in Greenbelt, Maryland. He is responsible for the on-orbit servicing and the development of new science instruments and replacement hardware that allow Hubble to stay on the cutting edge of technology throughout its long life. Mr. Cepollina believes that preserving and upgrading precious space assets is the best, most cost-effective way to do business in space. In December 1993, he led the repair of the HST—the most difficult on-orbit repair mission ever attempted. He and his team completed three more servicing and upgrade missions to Hubble, as well as a successful demonstration of new Hubble technology aboard STS-95 (“the John Glenn Mission”) in October-November 1998.

Mr. Cepollina graduated from University of Santa Clara in 1959 with a B.S. in mechanical engineering. He worked for 4 years for the Aerojet General Corporation and the Defense Intelligence Agency before joining NASA in 1963. He helped develop the OSO and OAO spacecraft, and he led development of the Explorer Platform (EP), which enables the exchange of scientific payloads in orbit.

In 1970, he led an effort to establish the architecture for NASA's first serviceable Multimission Modular Spacecraft. This concept led to modular spacecraft and subsystems for such missions as HST, Solar Maximum, Landsat, Gamma Ray Observatory (GRO), Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS), TOPEX, EP, and missions for other agencies. In 1982, Mr. Cepollina became Project Manager for the Solar Maximum Repair Mission (SMRM), NASA's first repair mission to use the Space Shuttle. He then led the development effort for the EP, a concept that enables the exchange of scientific payloads in orbit.

His involvement with HST dates back to the mid-1970s, when he contributed to the telescope’s modular instrument design, as well as its scientific command and control subsystem. Later, as Satellite Servicing Project Manager, he directed the design of the generic servicing platforms and instrument carriers that would be used on Hubble and many other NASA spacecraft. He has been involved in designing HST’s astronaut interfaces and power tools since the inception of the Shuttle Program.

Mr. Cepollina’s work has led to important medical, manufacturing, and educational spinoffs. These include: a HST instrument Charge Coupled Device (CCD) now used for breast cancer detection; an intelligent, programmable, hand-held power tool developed for servicing HST now finding manufacturing applications; highly sophisticated, precision HST-type optics being employed to produce smaller, denser, faster computer chips; and free, interactive, educational software.

In 1985, Mr. Cepollina received a NASA Exceptional Achievement Award for leading the SMRM. For his outstanding leadership of HSTs SM1, which corrected Hubble’s vision, he was awarded a NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, as well as the prestigious 1994 National Space Club Eagle Manned Mission Success Award. In April of 1995, he received the University of Santa Clara Distinguished Engineering Alumni Award and was inducted into Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society as an Eminent Engineer. In October of 1997, Mr. Cepollina was presented with the James J. Kerley Award, the top NASA’s GSFC Award for innovation and exceptional contributions to NASA’s technology transfer and commercialization efforts.

In 1997, Mr. Cepollina was named a finalist for the Design News Engineer of the Year Award. In April 1998, he received the distinguished Federal Laboratory Consortium Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer. In February 2000, he was awarded GSFC’s highest honor for mission success, the Robert C. Baumann Memorial Award. In 1999, he and his team received the Aviation Week & Space Technology Laurels Award for Outstanding Achievement. In 2000, the President of the United States of America conferred upon Mr. Cepollina the rank of Meritorious Executive in Senior Executive Service for his sustained, superior accomplishments in managing NASA Programs. He and the entire HST Team won the prestigious 2001 Space Foundation Space Achievement Award. In 2003, he was inducted to the exclusive National Inventors Hall of Fame, which includes other pioneers such as Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, Henry Ford and the Wright Brothers. In August 2005, he received the prestigious Space Logistics Medal from SOLE–The International Society of Logistics for exceptional vision and leadership in space logistics. In October 2005, Mr. Cepollina was informed that he would once again receive the Presidential Rank Award of Meritorious Executive in Senior Executive Service.



Return to SE Seminars Home


Systems Engineering Seminar Contacts