Launching to the Moon, Mars, and Beyond

The AAE Fall 2006 Colloquium Series

Presented by Daniel L. Dumbacher, Deputy Director, NASA Exploration Launch Projects Office Marshall Space Flight Center

While growing up in Indianapolis, NASA senior engineer Dan Dumbacher never missed a chance to watch a space launch on television. Today, he is doing more than just watching spacecraft lift off -- he's helping build the next generation of launch vehicles. These vehicles will play an integral part in NASA's Vision for Space Exploration, returning humans to the moon and traveling to Mars and beyond. Recently, Dumbacher shared NASA's exploration goals and benefits, and talked about development of the next-generation space launch vehicles during the AAE Fall 2006 Colloquium Series held on December 7, 2006.

Dumbacher is deputy director of the Exploration Launch Office at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, AL. Named to the position in September 2005, Mr. Dumbacher is responsible for assisting the director in the overall project management of NASA’s new Crew Launch Vehicle, which will transport the Crew Exploration Vehicle into space and deliver uncrewed cargo payloads to space – key to the Vision for Space Exploration. The office is responsible for the overall integration of the launch vehicle system, and development of a first stage derived from the current space shuttle booster and motor elements and a new upper stage powered by a J-2X main engine.

The U.S. Vision for Space Exploration, announced in 2004, calls on NASA to finish constructing the International Space Station, retire the Space Shuttle, and build the new spacecraft needed to return to the Moon and go on the Mars. In order to reach the Moon and Mars within the planned timeline and also within the allowable budget, NASA is building upon the best of proven space transportation systems. Journeys to the Moon and Mars will require a variety of vehicles, including the Ares I Crew Launch Vehicle, the Ares V Cargo Launch Vehicle, the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle, and the Lunar Surface Access Module.

What America learns in reaching for the Moon will teach astronauts how to prepare for the first human footprints on Mars. While robotic science may reveal information about the nature of hydrogen on the Moon, it will most likely take a human with a rock hammer to find the real truth about the presence of water, a precious natural resource that opens many possibilities for explorers.

Mr. Dumbacher has authored several papers on liquid propulsion technologies and space transportation systems development. He graduated in 1981 with a BSME from Purdue University. In 1984, he received his master’s degree in administrative science from the University of Alabama in Huntsville.