This guest contribution is part of our ISS20 series commemorating 20 years of continuous human presence on the ISS through a collection of visionary contributions on the future of space.
Paul Galloway has 36 years of experience in space payload design, development, testing, integration, and operations for manned and unmanned launch vehicles, including the ISS and SpaceX Dragon. Galloway received a Silver Snoopy for his work in 2010. He also served as program manager and lead systems engineer on the Multiple User System for Earth Sensing (MUSES) Program—MUSES is a complex pointing system on the exterior of the ISS.
If anyone told me that a new graduate or “fresh out” engineer could spend an entire career in aerospace working on one program or vehicle, I would have replied that it was not possible in the transient/contract–driven aerospace industry. Yet that is exactly what has happened in my case.
My entire professional career as an engineer in the Space Systems Department at Teledyne Brown Engineering (TBE) has paralleled the development and utilization of the International Space Station (ISS). The payload interfaces and capabilities of ISS are so extensive that I also found it possible to work for an entire career and not see the use of more than a small fraction of those capabilities. I have called the ISS the “infinite bus,” a term derived from satellite terminology and so named from the perspective of a payload/instrument developer for multiple payloads on the ISS.
Reflecting on the Past
TBE’s role on the ISS started in 1986, and my personal involvement in ISS now exceeds 30 years. As a major subcontractor to Boeing on ISS Design and Development, TBE was responsible for development of the Vacuum Exhaust System (VES), the Process Materials Management System (PMMS), and multi-user racks for the pressurized environment. TBE also developed all the ground support equipment to handle the pressurized modules and large ISS elements during preflight testing and subsystem integration.
My work at TBE has included development and integration of the Window Observational Research Facility (WORF), a multi-user facility for Earth-viewing instruments, and payload integration for the EXpedite the Processing of Experiments to Space Station (EXPRESS) Rack.
I have helped train astronauts on Science Payload Operations, and I have sent ground commands to turn hardware on and off as a Payload Rack Officer. I even have a recording of my name being called down from the ISS as recognition for my work as part of the ground control team at the Payload Operations and Integration Center at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC).
TBE later developed the first multi-user facility for ISS truss-mounted payloads. The Multiple User System for Earth Sensing (MUSES) launched to the ISS in June 2017. One year later, Teledyne added the German Aerospace Center Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR) Earth Sensing Imaging Spectrometer (DESIS) to MUSES, and it has been sending down images of the Earth’s surface since September 2018. MUSES and DESIS use all possible payload data networks on the ISS to send large volumes of image data to the Operations Center at TBE in Huntsville, Alabama. TBE also developed and currently operates the Ring Sheared Drop Facility inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox onboard the ISS, established to assist with Alzheimer’s research.
TBE’s latest ISS project is a new attached payload for the ISS to be launched in 2025. The LargE Area burst Polarimeter (LEAP), an astrophysics experiment, will be designed to study the energetic jets launched during the explosive death of a massive star or the merger of compact objects such as neutron stars. TBE is also working on a future ISS experiment with the Colgate-Palmolive Corporation, and the Oral Biofilms in Space project will launch in 2021.
Looking Ahead to the Future
As we celebrate 20 years of continuous human presence onboard the ISS, I feel eager to see what the next 20 years will bring. Future ISS utilization has endless possibilities—and future platforms may also provide a new “infinite bus.” I see a future that includes the construction of deep-space vehicles and expanded use for Earth remote sensing with high bandwidth laser-communications downlink and automated image processing to detect trends on Earth. I imagine a future dedicated platform for space weather monitoring and reporting, and space tourism where you can travel to the ISS or other platforms for a few days or weeks. Who knows, we may even see our first wedding in space one day soon!
These diverse and exciting activities aside, I feel that the real wonder of the ISS is the international cooperation. Over my career with the ISS, I have had the opportunity to work with engineers and scientists from Germany, Italy, France, the Netherlands, Canada, Japan, and Russia on hardware development and utilization projects. There is no other large-scale project in history that has brought diverse cultures to work together in peaceful cooperation, and I am grateful and fortunate to be a small part of that. The opportunity has allowed me to hone my skills in technical communications and negotiations while learning new languages and cultures. The international competitive environment on ISS has also driven scientific and technology innovation. Almost everything built for ISS is “one of a kind.”
The payload development, integration, and operations planning process used at TBE for more than 30 years requires complete attention to detail, and NASA has continued to look to TBE for the highly trained people and innovations we have brought over the life of the ISS Program.
Through the ISS, an entire generation of aerospace engineers have become proficient in building space hardware and defining processes for low Earth orbit, most all of which translates well to lunar and Mars exploration—and I look forward to seeing those translations unfold over the next 20 years. I am proud to be part of this team and our accomplishments, and I stand ready for my next ISS project.