May 17, 1999 Susan Turner has been named project manager of the X-37 technology demonstrator, a small, winged rocket that will be carried into orbit by the Space Shuttle.
Turner, from NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., will oversee a government and industry team developing the X-37, the third in a series of advanced reusable launch vehicle technology demonstrators intended to cut the cost of launching payloads into space from $10,000 to $1,000 per pound.
While the unpiloted X-33 and X-34 demonstrators will explore technologies at lower altitudes and speeds, the unpiloted X-37 will be the first to explore the orbital and reentry phases of flight.
It will be carried into space by a Space Shuttle in 2002 to begin its flight tests. Measuring more than 27 feet long with a wingspan of about 14 feet, the reusable X-37 is planned to fly twice on the Shuttle.
NASA in December 1998 selected The Boeing Co., of Seal Beach, Calif., for negotiations leading to a four-year cooperative agreement worth $173 million, shared roughly 50/50 between NASA and Boeing. The Air Force is contributing $16 million to the project for additional technology experiments.
Turner came to Marshall in 1986, where her first assignment was with the Solid Propulsion Group working on propellant technology and processes for the Inertial Upper Stage and the Space Shuttle Reusable Solid Rocket Motor.
In 1988, she joined the International Space Station Laboratory System team, working on the integrated fluid management system for the Station, a project involving several NASA centers and contractors.
In the summer of 1990, Turner was selected to attend the International Space University program at York University in Toronto, where she led the International Program for Earth Observation project. The International Space University is a 10-week school attended by experts in space policy, space law and space business from around the world.
In 1992, she was named chief of the Propulsion Systems Design Branch, providing leadership in the design of the National Launch System and future reusable launch vehicles.
In 1996, Turner was selected for full-time study to complete requirements for her doctorate in systems engineering and engineering management at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. During 1997, she directed the efforts of the Advanced Propulsion Group for launch systems. In 1998, she was named the assistant director of Marshall’s Propulsion Laboratory.
Turner earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Auburn University in 1983. She received a master’s degree in engineering in 1990 from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. She is currently completing her dissertation for a doctorate in systems engineering and engineering management from the University of Alabama in Huntsville.
Prior to coming to Marshall, Turner worked three years for the Directed Energy Directorate of the U.S. Army Missile Command at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville.
She received a NASA Certificate of Appreciation in 1996 for her leadership in developing propulsion systems for NASA’s reusable launch vehicle programs and a Marshall Center Director’s Commendation in 1989 for leadership in resolving an igniter problem with the NASA Inertial Upper Stage program. She also has received several Group Achievement, Special Service and Performance Awards.
A native of Huntsville, she graduated from Huntsville High School in 1979. She and her husband, Jim, live in Huntsville and have one child, Eric.
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