I think it is a real plus to have an experienced MIT professor as the agency’s second-in-charge. Dava Newman seems like a good technological innovator and should bring fresh new energy and ideas to NASA. As the former Apollo Program Professor of Aeronautics at MIT in Cambridge, she has expertise in multidisciplinary research that includes aerospace biomedical engineering.
Newman will work with the NASA administrator Charles Bolden in making final decisions regarding the agency and will act as the administrator in his absence. She will present NASA’s vision as well as represent NASA to the Executive office of the President of the United States as well as Congress, heads of federal and other government agencies, international organizations like the European Space Agency (ESA) and external organizations and communities.
Newman is eager to expand this country’s reach into space, and advancing Orion on the journey to Mars and beyond is part of her goal.
Her research studies involved flight experiments, ground-based simulations, and mathematical modeling. More recently she delved into space suit design, the dynamics and control of astronaut motion, mission analysis, and engineering systems design as well as policy analysis.
Newman has also done research in navigation aids for Extra Vehicular Activity (EVA) astronauts and how they are affected by microgravity (0G) and hypergravity (<1G) as well as lunar and Martian gravity (1/6G and 3/8G respectively)
In my undergraduate work at NYU I took one course in Lagrangian dynamics, but my knowledge is certainly nowhere near the extent that Dr. Newman can envision the dynamics of multiple bodies in motion from the point of view of an observer on another moving body like a space vehicle.
Dr. Newman’s credentials and background are “stellar”—pun intended and she is a welcome addition to NASA that will bring good acceleration to the Mars journey and beyond as well as to NASA policy in general.
What do you think about her ability to shape our future space program?