LM Innovator: Tim Priser
Our Commercial Resupply Services-2 (CRS-2) solution will fulfill NASA’s need for on time, affordable and safe cargo transport to and from the International Space Station (ISS). We asked Tim Priser, the Lockheed Martin program manager for the CRS-2 proposal about how he has helped contribute to the innovations of this exciting project.
How long have you been a member of the Lockheed Martin team?
I have been here 28 years – and many more to come! After going to school for Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering at The Ohio State University (Go Buckeyes!), I took a job with Martin Marietta working on Inertial Upper Stage Guidance, Navigation, and Control (GN&C) Independent Verification and Validation.
What are some of the cool programs that you have worked on while at Space Systems?
I have worked on programs like the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) and Atlas AV01 performing Software Systems Engineering and then transitioned to Mars Odyssey where I supported the Mars Orbit Insertion (MOI) Aerobaking Operations. One of my favorite roles was supporting the Mars Phoenix Lander as the Entry, Descent and Landing (EDL) Mission Phase Lead. It launched in 2007 and landed on a most memorable Memorial Day in 2008. I was also the MAVEN Chief Systems Engineer and was in the Mission Support Area (MSA) during that mission’s historic MOI event – and providing color commentary of the event on NASA TV was pretty cool!
What is your role on the CRS-2 proposal?
My latest adventure is serving as the program manager for the CRS-2 proposal. That means I work with the proposal manager who is in charge of making sure we are compliant with the regulations and submittal criteria and also the capture manager who ensures our costs meet the targeted price to win. Essentially, in this role I am the go between for the bear hunters and the bear skinners. My role in the middle is making sure that whatever we propose can be executed…and that it actually follows the laws of physics! And that the budgets we propose are competitive and consistent. The best part of working on a proposal team like this is working collectively toward a common goal, on a crisp timeline, under the critical eyes of fellow employees who are looking forward to new and exciting work.
What is the most unique or interesting thing about this proposal?
How can I pick just one! We wanted to provide a solution that was more than “Hey, we can do that too,” we wanted to be different. We aspired to do something that was outside the simple cargo delivery system box. Something to capture the attention of our entire company, the customer team, and space enthusiasts of all ages. So we came up with an innovative solution - repurposing proven technology to not only provide an affordable cargo resupply solution but a solution to help enable human exploration of deep space. The design of the innovative container, the ExolinerTM, is the foundation of tomorrow’s space habitats. That is what is truly unique about this proposal. We are combining our deep space robotic
mission expertise and techniques with our human space flight programs to help get humans up and out of LEO (lower earth orbit). Sometimes it is difficult for people to do something outside of what they know – but we have the deep space technologies and the human space flight expertise to repackage them holistically for this purpose…and we’re going to make a run at it. We’re helping to accelerate the journey to Mars—and that’s incredibly exciting.
How are you helping to deliver the “Next Space Age” today?
With a proposal like CRS-2, we are providing a deeper and broader solution to the “commercialization” of space. Technologies and techniques will evolve very slowly without multiple customers and real mission requirements to drive our engineering solutions onward and upward. We could be carrying commercial hosted payloads and CubeSats, sharing space with NASA instruments and experiments and at the same time sharing mission costs across a broader base of customers – that is how we meet the intent of the word commercial.
Take this example. Early on, people used ships just to explore their coasts and venture to distant coasts, but once they realized there were opportunities across the oceans, the ships changed. They started transporting goods, materials, colonists and livestock. Then they changed to more than cargo carriers. Now there are ocean liners, research vessels and battleships. It is even more apparent with the Transcontinental Railroad as it was more than a transportation route between two points. It launched a new national economy, establishing an infrastructure for commerce that revolutionized everything from agriculture and raw materials to finance and tourism, and eventually to automobiles and airlines. The railroad was not only a technological marvel; it was a model of public-private partnership. It gave everyone a common goal, on a crisp timeline, under the critical eyes of fellow citizens who were looking forward to new and exciting opportunities.
The transcontinental railroad was the genesis of the transportation web that is woven into our nation’s topology – our towns and cities are at the rail crossings and hubs necessitated by the railways. We can build an analogous web in space. This CRS-2 program has the chance to influence similar changes. Our Jupiter spacecraft and ExolinerTM carrier (or habitat) won’t be the USS Enterprise, but it is the genesis to futuristic interplanetary shipping lanes to the Moon and Mars, bustling with space freighters carrying supplies, scientific instruments and the construction materials for habitats.
Any final thoughts?
We’ve placed hardware on the surface of Mars, and as an engineer there has been no greater challenge…until now! Placing humans on the surface of Mars is the next big challenge. I grew up with Apollo missions riveting my eyes and fueling my dreams. Jupiter and Exoliner are going to change everything for my son and his kids. They are going to be able to experience and live this next space age.