Horn Spencer is a systems engineer for the Flight Projects Directorate
at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. |
Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.
child who built models of lunar landers, now builds real space hardware
Nov. 27, 2001
- Growing up in Memphis, Tenn., Susan Horn --fascinated by the Apollo
Moon landings -- built models of the lunar lander. This week, equipment
Susan Horn Spencer helped to build will carry experiments into orbit
via NASA’s Space Shuttle Endeavour.
writing an essay in Janice King’s class at Harding Academy
in Memphis on what I wanted to do when I grew up,” recalls
Spencer, a systems engineer for the Flight Projects Directorate
at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.
I wanted to work for NASA. Now I’m living that dream.”
husband Jeff and their two children will be at NASA’s Kennedy
Space Center in Florida to watch as the Shuttle lifts off with hardware
that Spencer helped design, manufacture and test: the Lightweight
Multi-Purpose Experiment Support Structure Carrier. Spencer was
among those who prepared the carrier to transport experiments inside
the Shuttle for its first flight, now set for launch Nov. 29 on
the STS-108 Space Shuttle mission.
the lightweight carrier ready for its flight on the Shuttle has
been one of the highlights of my career,” says Spencer. “The
combination of a talented design team and the close coordination
among people at five NASA centers made it possible to get this new
carrier ready for its maiden flight in less than a year.”
Multi-Purpose Experiment Support Structure Carrier makes it possible
to carry more science experiments in the Shuttle or quickly deliver
spare parts to the International Space Station. When the Shuttle
returns to Earth with the lightweight carrier and its experiments
in December, Spencer and her team will evaluate how it performed
on its first flight. They’ll be looking for ways to improve
the carrier. For example, they want to add features allowing the
Space Station’s robot arm to pick up the carrier to move it
from the Shuttle to remote locations on the Space Station. This
would make it easier for astronauts to unload spare parts and move
them to the Station. It would also make it possible to do experiments
on different parts of the Station’s exterior structure.
her career at NASA in 1989 and has worked on such projects as studying
future space transportation systems, lunar telescopes, and scientific
spacecraft. She has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering
from Christian Brothers University in Memphis, and attended high
school at Harding Academy.
always interested in math and science, so becoming an engineer was
a natural choice for me,” says Spencer.
is not getting equipment ready for Space Shuttle flights, she enjoys
making music. She plays the French horn in the Madison Community
Band and hand bells at her church. She, her husband Jeffrey Spencer
-- also an engineer at the Marshall Center who works on the Space
Shuttle Main Engines that lift the Shuttle into orbit – and their
two children live in Madison, Ala., near Huntsville. Her parents,
J.C. and Myra Horn, formerly of Memphis, now reside in Paris, Ark.
and photos for this story were provided by Marshall Space Flight