Systems Engineering Seminar

Max Launch Abort System (MLAS)

Presented by:
Michael Gilbert
Principal Engineer
NASA Engineering and Safety Center (NESC)
NASA Langley Research Center (LaRC)
Theodore Muench
Lead Cryogenic Test Engineer on TIRS/LDCM, GSFC Code 552

January 12, 2010, 1:00 p.m.
Building 3 Auditorium


Max Launch Abort System (MLAS)

Dr. Michael Gilbert will be presenting an overview of the Max Launch Abort System.   NASA chartered the Max Launch Abort System (MLAS) team, named after Mercury-era engineer Maxime Faget, to quickly and inexpensively demonstrate an alternate launch abort concept as risk mitigation for the Orion Project’s baseline tower design.  The nearly 2-year effort to design, build, and test the alternate launch abort system culminated in a successful launch pad abort demonstration test from the Wallops Flight Facility on July 8, 2009.  Dr. Gilbert will describe the objectives of the MLAS project, the design of the flight test vehicle, and results of the flight demonstration test. In addition, the applicability of the MLAS concepts to an operational vehicle and broadly-applicable lessons learned will also be presented. Theo Muench /GSFC-552 and Jerry Sterling /WFF-548 of the MLAS team will also participate in the briefing, highlighting their individual contributions to the project.



Photo of Michael Gilbert Dr. Michael G. Gilbert
is currently a Principal Engineer in the NASA Engineering and Safety Center (NESC). Prior to his assignment as a Principal Engineer, Dr. Gilbert served as the NESC Chief Engineer at the NASA Langley Research Center (LaRC). Before joining the NESC, Dr. Gilbert was the Head of the LaRC Systems Management Office responsible for independent assessments, continuous monitoring, reviews, and analyses of program and project cost, schedule, risk, and technical performance for the Office of the Director. Prior to his tenure with the Systems Management Office, Dr. Gilbert was a Senior Research Engineer in the Structural Dynamics Branch at LaRC, where he developed, demonstrated, and applied new technologies and analysis methods for the International Space Station, Space Shuttle, Space Solar Power, Controls-Structures Interaction, National Aero-Space Plane, X-Wing, and Forward-Swept-Wing programs.

He was the Principal Investigator for the STS-74/MIR PASDE flight experiment under the ISS Phase-1 Risk Reduction Program. Dr. Gilbert was the Assistant Branch Head of the Spacecraft Dynamics Branch from 1990 to 1994, and before joining NASA in 1986, spent several years with both PRC-Kentron Inc. and McDonnell-Douglas Astronautics Co. - St. Louis working on a variety of aerospace projects.

Dr. Gilbert received the BSAE, MSAE, and PhD degrees in Aeronautical Engineering from Purdue University in 1977, 1982, and 1994 respectively. He is the author or co-author of 11 technical journal articles and over 30 other publications in structural dynamics, controls, flight dynamics, smart materials, aeroservoelasticity, and interdisciplinary design optimization.


Theo Muench is currently lead cryogenic test engineer on TIRS (Thermal Infrared Sensor) for the LDCM (Landsat Data Continuity Mission) at NASA/GSFC. The past two years were spent working on MLAS (Max Launch Abort System) as a resident engineer for the propulsion subsystem. During 2006 he performed a year long detail assignment with the propulsion group to complete the integration and test of SDO’s (Solar Dynamic Observatory) propulsion system. From 2000 to 2006 he worked on several flight and R&D projects in the cryogenics group including JWST/NIRSpec and Constellation-X.

Theo started work at NASA/GSFC as a coop prior to graduation from Pennsylvania State University with a BS degree in Engineering Science. He has since obtained a MS in Mechanical Engineering from Johns Hopkins University through the part-time graduate study program.



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