July 2, 2014
NASA Veteran Jon Cowart Receives Space Flight Awareness Silver Snoopy Award
By Frank Ochoa-Gonzales, NASA
Jon Cowart's email signature, which comes from the movie "Intersteller," reads "Perhaps we have forgotten that we are still pioneers . . . That we’ve barely begun. And that our greatest accomplishments cannot be behind us… That our destiny lies above us."But ask just about anyone who knows the 27-year NASA veteran and they'll tell you all about his many accomplishments and pioneering spirit.
The outspoken engineer told Spaceport Magazine he had gotten over the fact that he had never received NASA’s highest honor . . . even though he really wanted one. That is, until June 20, when astronaut Mike Fincke honored Cowart at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex with his very own Space Flight Awareness Silver Snoopy award.
"I thought I was too far along in my career and it was just one of those things I was just going to have to get over, because I always wanted one," Cowart said. "I don’t remember who was the first person I ever saw receive the award, but it did make an impression upon me that it was very cool and prestigious, and therefore I wanted to earn one."
As a Commercial Crew Program (CCP) deputy partner manager, Cowart is working alongside SpaceX as the company develops its Dragon V2 spacecraft for crew transportation to low-Earth orbit. His Silver Snoopy award recognizes his leadership in the development and implementation of the multi-center Partner Integration Team, or PIT, which is responsible for executing the multi-million dollar Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) Space Act Agreement with SpaceX.
CCiCap supports the agency’s commitment to foster the development of a certified end-to-end crew transportation system for use in low-Earth orbit and its commitment to the strategic goals and objectives related to human spaceflight.
Prior to joining CCP, Cowart led the team that was responsible for all of the modifications to Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Pad 39B, Vehicle Assembly Building and mobile launcher for the Constellation Program’s Ares I-X flight test. That was the first program to develop, build and fly a brand new rocket for the space agency in 28 years -- certainly a feat to be proud of as he helped manage the entire mission from the ground up, through launch and well after splashdown.
Before joining NASA, Cowart was a lieutenant assigned to the 6595th Shuttle Test Group at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, where he worked as a solid rocket booster mechanical systems and handling engineer.
Cowart was in charge of the first stack of boosters at Vandenberg and then was promoted to an orbiter mechanical systems engineer. He received the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal for his work in the shuttle program. He resigned his commission as a captain to join NASA.
"I will always remember the (Henry David) Thoreau semi-quote ‘Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined,’" Cowart said. "Very few people ever realize their dream . . . I am proud that I have been able to do something I set out to do as a child."
He’s been a part of NASA’s human spaceflight initiatives since 1987, with roles and responsibilities that range from a Space Shuttle Program project engineer to a member of the International Space Station redesign team.
What he seems most excited about, though, is not his past accomplishments -- but the future.
"Working in the Commercial Crew Program, I feel I am helping to make that future where you go to a spaceport the way you go to an airport now," Cowart said. "You get in a spaceship and travel the way we travel around the United States in airplanes now. Commercial Crew is helping usher in that future."
From Colonel Chris Hadfield - An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth