Fall 2009:

Sept. 4 '09 "Moon, Mars, and the Stars: The Constellation Program and the Future of Space Exploration". Panelists: Robert D. Cabana, NASA KSC Director and Astronaut; Russell Romanella, Director, International Space and Spacecraft Processing Directorate, NASA KSC; Jon Cowart, Manager Exploration Systems, NASA KSC.


The United States is returning to the moon in the next decade and we have our eye on Mars in the decade after that. NASA's Constellation Program is charged with making it happen. Get the latest info on when the next humans will land on the moon and how we plan to get to Mars. And what lies beyond Mars? See what it is in store for humanity as we prepare to leave the cradle of mankind.

Robert D. Cabana
Center Director
John F. Kennedy Space Center

Robert D. Cabana is the tenth director of NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida where he manages a team of approximately 2,200 civil servants and about 13,000 contractor employees. Prior to his appointment to Kennedy in October 2008, the former space shuttle astronaut served as the director for NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.

Originally from Minneapolis, Minn., Cabana graduated from the U. S. Naval Academy in 1971, with a bachelor of science degree in mathematics and was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps. He is a distinguished graduate of the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School and has logged over 7,000 hours in 36 different aircraft.

Cabana was selected as an astronaut candidate in June of 1985, completing his training in 1986. He has flown four space shuttle missions serving as the pilot of Discovery on STS-41 in October 1990, the pilot of Discovery on STS-53 in December 1992, the commander of Columbia on STS-65 in July 1994, and the commander of Endeavour on STS-88, the first space station assembly mission, in December 1998.

Before being named the director of Stennis Space Center in October of 2007, Cabana served as deputy director of the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. In addition to his duties as an astronaut, Cabana's NASA experience includes assignments as deputy chief, Aircraft Operations Division; chief, NASA Astronaut Office; manager, International Operations, International Space Station Program; director, NASA Human Space Flight Program in Russia; deputy, International Space Station Program; and director, Flight Crew Operations.

He is married to the former Nancy Joan Shimer of Cortland, N.Y. They have three children: two sons and a daughter.

Russell Romanella
International Space Station and Spacecraft Processing Directorate.

Romanella joined NASA in 1981 as a co-op student while attending Florida State University. After graduation in 1984 with a degree in mathematics and computer science, he joined NASA as an operations engineer in the Space Shuttle Processing Directorate. Romanella became project manager for the Payload Data Management System (PDMS) in 1990, responsible for the development, management and operations of this Management Information System, which supported all payload processing including Space Station, Shuttle and Expendable Launch Vehicle payloads.

In September 2003, Romanella became deputy director of the International Space Station/Payload Processing Directorate, and in November 2005, he became director of the same directorate. In this, his current position, Romanella is responsible for launch site ground processing of the International Space Station and Shuttle Payloads. While in these positions, critical elements of the International Space Station have been successfully assembled at KSC, tested, and launched to orbit. These critical space station elements, including both the ISS connecting nodes, the U.S. Laboratory, large solar arrays, airlock, and international partner elements such as the Columbus European laboratory, the Japanese Logistics Module, and the Canadian robotic system. These elements are now operating on orbit and supporting the largest, most complex space station in human history. In addition, Romanella is responsible for preparing the Kennedy Space Center for final assembly of the future human space launch vehicle: the Orion crew exploration vehicle.

Romanella has received numerous group achievement and performance awards, including NASA's Exceptional Service Award and the Center Director Award for his management and leadership efforts in preparing space station elements for launch at the Kennedy Space Center.

Jon N. Cowart
Orbiter Engineering Manager
NASA/Kennedy Shuttle Program

NASA KSC Constellation Program
Deputy Mission Manager for Ares I-X
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
John F. Kennedy Space Center
Kennedy Space Center, Florida 32899

Jon was born on December 16, 1958 in Mobile, Alabama. He lived all over the southeast but finally settled in the Atlanta area. After graduation from Tucker High School he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force Reserve. He graduated from Georgia Tech in 1983 with a Bachelor of Aerospace Engineering degree and an Air Force commission.

Second Lieutenant Cowart was assigned to the 6595th Shuttle Test Group at Vandenberg AFB, California where he worked as a solid rocket booster (SRB) mechanical systems and handling engineer for his first two years. Jon was in charge of the first ever stack of SRB's at Vandenberg AFB and was then promoted to an Orbiter mechanical systems engineer. He received the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal for his work in the Shuttle program. In 1987 Jon became a staff officer to Major General Donald Cromer, commander of the Air Force's Space and Missile Test Organization. He resigned his commission as a captain in 1987 to join NASA.

When Jon joined NASA he became a project engineer on the Space Shuttle Orbiter Atlantis. His primary duty in this job was to oversee daily testing and preparations for flight of the Orbiter Atlantis. In 1993, Jon was one of 50 people chosen from throughout NASA to participate in the Space Station Redesign and received the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal for that effort. Jon then became the chief engineer at Kennedy Space Center responsible for the Orbiter's docking system which is used to dock with the Russian Space Station Mir and the International Space Station.

In August 1995, Jon was selected to go Washington D.C. and work on special projects for the Chief Engineer of NASA. Among the projects he worked on were: Next Generation Spacesuits and launch vehicle reliability.

Upon his return from Washington, Jon was named the Chief Engineer for the Orbiter Discovery. In May 1996 Jon left the Shuttle Program to be the Space Station Assembly Flight 3A Mission Manager. In July 1997 he was named as the Space Station Assembly Flight 2A Mission Manager. Flight 2A was comprised of the Unity connecting module and two pressurized mating adapters and was the first U.S. launched component of the International Space Station. These components were launched on Space Shuttle mission STS-88 on December 4, 1998. Unity's on-orbit activation was virtually flawless and now, along with the Russian FGB named "Zarya" and the Russian Service Module named "Zvesda", these components form the cornerstone of the International Space Station.

Jon was then assigned as the Mission Manager for the inboard truss elements of the ISS. He was then appointed as the Mission Manager for the U.S. Laboratory Module, named Destiny, and the Airlock. As the Mission Manager, Jon was responsible for all of the acceptance testing, outfitting, testing, and final preparation for flight of these two elements of the International Space Station launched on separate Shuttle missions in 2001.

After the successful on-orbit activation of the US Lab, in 2001 Jon became the manager of the Orbiter Sustaining Engineering Office at KSC representing the Orbiter Project Office which is located at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX. The office was responsible for all design engineering problems and changes encountered and implemented at KSC.

In 2007, Jon was asked to be the senior project manager responsible for all modifications to the launch pad, vehicle assembly building, and the mobile launch platform for the Ares I-X flight test, which is currently scheduled for launch in July 2009. Ares I is the launch vehicle which will carry astronauts into orbit after the Space Shuttle Program ends in 2010. In December 2008, he was elevated to Deputy Mission Manager for Ares I-X by the Mission Manager, Bob Ess. As part of the Mission Management Office, they are responsible for the entire Ares I-X flight test mission.