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National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Goddard Space Flight Center

Mechanical Systems Division, Code 540

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Our Work

The Mechanical Systems Division is involved in just about every flight project at Goddard as well as numerous proposals for future missions and technology development activities. Missions supported by the MSD cover everything from critical Earth Science missions monitoring global change, to Space Science explorations of the Sun and planets in our solar system, to missions answering questions about the origin and fate of the universe.

Our engineers are involved in the entire life cycle of a project from the early preliminary design stages, through detailed design and analysis, integration and testing, and providing support at launch sites. We support projects launched on everything from small sounding rockets, to the largest of launch vehicles as well as missions launched on balloons and science payloads attached to research aircraft.

The breadth and variety of the projects supported by MSD make it a challenging, interesting and exciting place to work. The links below show a small snapshot of some of our projects:

Sample of Current Projects

Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) - - Providing comprehensive measurement of precipitation around the globe, GPM will improve scientific understanding of the earth system and its response to natural and human-induced changes. This will enable improved prediction of climate, weather, and natural hazards for present and future generations.

Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) Mission - - A formation of 4 spacecraft that will precisely measure the magnetic environment around the earth to help our understanding of how those fields interact and effect “space weather.”


James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) - As large as a tennis court and sitting 1.5 million Km from earth, JWST will look back in time to the beginnings of the universe.  Using the 6.5 m diameter telescope, the instruments on JWST will be able to see some of the most distant and faintest astronomical objects to answer questions about the formation of galaxies and solar systems.

International X-Ray Observatory (IXO) - - IXO is a proposed joint effort of NASA, ESA, and JAXA.  It combines a large X-ray mirror (comprised of over 10,000 smaller X-ray “mirrors”) with powerful new instrumentation that will explore the high energy Universe.  Peering through dust and obscuring clouds of gas, IXO will discover and map supermassive black holes at very early times when the Universe was still assembling galaxies.

Some Recently Launched Missions

Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) - - Launched in February of 2010, SDO is the flagship mission in NASA’s “Living with a Star” program.  It will provide unprecedented, real-time imaging of the sun and solar events (enough data to fill a single CD every 36 seconds).  SDO’s three science instruments will help us to better understand and predict “space weather” which can threaten astronaut safety, satellite health, communications networks, and even the global electrical grid.


Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) - - Launched in June of 2009, LRO is currently in orbit around the moon and returning data to Earth.  Its mission is to create a comprehensive atlas of the Moon's features and resources necessary to design and build a lunar outpost. LRO follows in the footsteps of the predecessors to the Apollo missions - missions designed in part to search for the best possible landing sites (such as the Ranger, Lunar Orbiter and Surveyor missions). LRO focuses on the selection of safe landing sites, identification of lunar resources, and the study of how the lunar radiation environment will affect humans.


Max Launch Abort System (MLAS) - - Successfully tested in July of 2009, MLAS is a project led by the NASA Engineering and Safety Center (NESC), is preparing to demonstrate an alternate crew escape system for the proposed Orion spacecraft to explore different technological approaches to the same task.  The MLAS concept for an operational vehicle would have four or more solid rocket motors attached inside a bullet-shaped composite fairing. MLAS is designed to propel the crew module and associated fairing from the Ares I Rocket in event of a launch emergency.

Main Office – 301-286-7101
Division Chief – Lee Niemeyer, 
Associate - Laura Milam-Hannin, 
Associate – Wanda Peters,