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K-State Today

September 4, 2013

Loving math and working at NASA: Speaker to present mathematician career lecture Sept. 10, 11

Submitted by Natasha Rozhkovskaya

Hosted by the mathematics department, Charles Armstrong, from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Johnson Space Center, will present a colloquium at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept., 10,  and a presentation at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 11, both in 122 Cardwell Hall.

The colloquium's lecture is "A Mathematician's Career at NASA." Armstrong will use his experiences from his 33-year career during the space shuttle and International Space Station programs as an example of what a math major can do for a career.
The presentation will be part of the Math Circle Seminar workshop where students in grades 2-10 will talk with Armstrong about math, science and space exploration.

Both events are open to general public.

Armstrong is a member of NASA’s human spaceflight community. During his career at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, he has worked on a variety of major NASA projects or programs including the space shuttle, shuttle-Mir, International Space Station, Assured Crew Return Vehicle and Orbital Space Plane, as well as the Orion Program.

Currently a member of the Safety and Mission Assurance team, he recently completed a rotational assignment with the NASA/Johnson Space Center’s office of external relations. Prior to that, he was the systems engineering and integration manager for processes and plans for the Orion Multipurpose Crew Vehicle, NASA’s upcoming replacement for the space shuttle and the vehicle destined to take humans beyond low Earth orbit.  

In the course of his career, Armstrong has trained astronauts; worked as a flight controller for spacewalks, or EVA; led the development of displays to control the International Space Station, and headed operations planning for the Orbital Space Plane. During the shuttle-Mir missions when the shuttle docked with the Russian Mir space station, he served as one of the primary interfaces between the Russian mission control center and the U.S. mission control center. Following the tragic loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia in early 2003, Armstrong worked with members of NASA and other federal and state agencies from across the country to complete the recovery effort, participating in both ground and air searches.

Later, prior to becoming a member of the Orion Project team, he supported the Return to Flight Task Group, the blue ribbon panel responsible for the assessment of the space shuttle’s readiness to return to flight. Currently, he was requested to be an adviser to the EVA Suit Water Intrusion Mishap Investigation Board.

Along the way, Armstrong has received several honors. In 2001, he was awarded the “Silver Snoopy.” The award is bestowed by NASA’s Astronaut Office to recognize professionalism, dedication and outstanding support that greatly enhanced space flight safety and mission success." He received the NASA Spaceflight Awareness Leadership Award in 2009 and more recently, in 2011, was awarded the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal both for outstanding leadership in the planning and execution of the Orion Preliminary Design Review.

He received his bachelor's degree in physics and mathematics from Missouri State University, formerly Southwest Missouri State University in 1979. He subsequently obtained his Master of Science from the University of Houston in space physics in 1993.