Our guest speaker for this public star night will be Dr. Robert Freedman from Ball Aerospace, and his presentation topic will be the communication antennas Ball Aerospace has built for NASA’s Orion spacecraft.
Orion, America’s first spacecraft to carry humans into deep space since Apollo 17, successfully passed its initial flight test at the end of 2014. Now NASA’s preparing for Orion’s Exploration Mission 1—the first integrated test of the crew module, the powerful new Space Launch System rocket and the Kennedy Space Center‘s updated ground systems. In 2020 this un-crewed flight will send Orion to an orbit around the Moon, and then return it to Earth about three weeks later. EM-1 will lay the groundwork for developing a lunar outpost and ultimately sending astronauts to the Moon and on to Mars.
Rob Freedman is Vice President and General Manager of Tactical Solutions for Ball Aerospace. This business unit designs and builds products critical to our national defense, such as 3-D LIDAR imagers, low-light-level cameras and stealth antennas for the F-35/Lightning II aircraft. This unit also develops products for commercial purposes, such as the antennas for the WorldView-3 spacecraft, which captures high-resolution Earth images, and Ball’s AIRLINK® antennas, which fly on nearly every commercial airline in the world.Traveling into deep space presents challenges for Orion astronauts and spacecraft that need a reliable way to “phone home,” so Ball engineers designed and built antennas that will enable those critical communications. Join us for an overview of upcoming Orion missions and how the cool antennas on Orion, on other spacecraft and on Earth will talk to each other.
Rob’s 28 years of experience as a naval aviator ranged from flying in operational squadrons to leading the final assembly and testing of the supersonic F/A-18 combat jet for the Australian Co-Production Program. He enjoys pursuing amateur astronomy and volunteering at the Little Thompson Observatory.
Rob holds a B.A. in Art and Architecture, an M.S. in Aeronautical Engineering, an M.S. in Systems Management, and a Ph.D. in Organization and Management.
Weather permitting after the presentation, visitors will be invited to look through our large telescope at various celestial objects. Public star nights are held the third Friday of each month, except July, when we are closed for annual maintenance.