Ryan Dardar

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    I put stress to the test everyday I’m at work. As a stress analyst for the Orion Program, I examine every nook, cranny and crevice of the spacecraft to determine what levels of stress it can handle throughout its entire spaceflight – from launch to landing and everywhere in between.

    I'm responsible for the foundation of the primary structure, which is the pressure vessel that will serve as the astronauts’ transportation and shelter during deep space missions throughout our solar system. On the stress analyst team, we work all the numbers and serve as the overall systems integrators. It’s our job to make sure the Orion team can prove that the spacecraft’s structural integrity and stability assessments are accurate. We push the limits of spacecraft design every day in order to reduce mass, simplify systems and ensure every component is sized correctly to withstand every different regimes throughout a mission.

    We’re the folks who stand up at the end of the day and say "Yes, we're good to fly and I can put it on the table and prove it." It’s a high-stress job, but that’s what we do best.

    I’m most proud of the completion of the static loads testing on the Orion crew module. We drove the spacecraft to its pressure limits to make sure we’re operating in the most safe, conscious path forward with the vehicle. The crew module is the prized piece of the Orion program. It is in our hands and the pressure is on to make sure we don’t break it. Some people thrive under that pressure and I’m one of them. I enjoy challenges.

    The coolest part of my job is being able to see the spacecraft come to fruition from the beginning, middle, and all the way to the end. As a stress analyst, you stay with the spacecraft from cradle to grave because you’re that person who is ultimately responsible for that hardware. And besides, who wouldn’t think a spacecraft is cool and fun to work on?

    As a young native American growing up in a small fishing community south of New Orleans, I grew up shrimping – that’s what we did as a family, that’s what we did as a community. I did well in school and earned a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from Louisiana State University and a master’s of engineering from the University of New Orleans. At the age of 22, I was scheduled to accept an internship at a local Engineering firm in New Orleans, LA. However, I got a phone call to come work on the External Tank program at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility and thought it would be extremely cool to come and work on this stuff. I worked as an intern during NASA’s Return to Flight phase following the Columbia accident. It felt like a good fit and I returned to Lockheed Martin as a full time employee.

    To those people undecided about their future careers, I would say that not everyone is an engineer, not everyone is a teacher, not everyone is like everyone else. If you find your profession, if you find what you like, be the best you can be. If you’re going to sweep floors, be the best floor sweeper you can be. If you’re going to be an engineer, be the best engineer you can be. Don’t settle for second best. Don’t be afraid to roll up your sleeves and work hard, sometimes it’s just what you have to do. Sometimes it falls on a few people’s shoulders. You shouldn’t shy away from it - keeping your head down and keep coloring. There will be good times and bad times, but if you keep coloring you will get down to the end of the road, you will be done, and you will be proud of yourself.

    1. rainfall2005 32 months ago | reply

      Orion is a mind numbingly expensive, nauseating waste of effort. It's ballast for NASA's soon to be cancelled SLS rocket to nowhere. Orion should have been killed 10 years ago. That would have freed up funds to develop a lunar lander. Dragon 2 can do everything Orion claims it can do, but at roughly one tenth the cost!!

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