Booz Allen’s Steve Wright: Laying the Groundwork for the Moon, Mars, and Beyond
Hovering roughly 250 miles above Earth and circling it in roughly an hour and a half, the International Space Station is more than a research laboratory for a range of experiments. It’s a place where mission-critical spacecraft systems and equipment are tested, yielding invaluable insights for the journeys to the moon and Mars.
Steve Wright, aerospace engineer and program lead at Booz Allen, played a crucial role at the space station even before it became an international enterprise: He led the team for assembly sequence planning for NASA’s first space station program, Space Station Freedom. Then he progressed to become stage manager for the launch of Unity, the first U.S. module.
“In December 1998, I flew to Florida to watch the launch and then to Houston to help manage the mission,” Wright said. “That was thrilling.”
A pivotal ISS partner
Booz Allen served on the task force that shaped the original vision for the International Space Station in the 1980s, followed work which continues today. This includes complex systems engineering and integration work encompassing major program changes and 11 years of on-orbit assembly. When the multi-contract program confronted budget challenges, Booz Allen helped identify $500 million in savings to put its important work back on track.
Currently, the Booz Allen team supports science and research, plus a variety of tasks related to logistics and operations: analyzing onboard systems for operations planning, coordinating vehicle traffic, and beyond.
“It’s one of the most complex engineering efforts ever attempted, with complex components and systems developed by multiple nations at different times that first come together in orbit,” Wright said. “It’s a great tribute to hard work and careful planning by so many that it works so well.”
A nightly reminder of a groundbreaking initiative
After becoming head of Booz Allen’s Houston space practice, Wright today leads complex Air Force training simulation work in San Antonio—with frequent reminders of his past work on the International Space Station.
“My daughter and I were in the backyard watching it fly over the other night, and there it was, more than 20 years after that first Unity launch,” he said. “It shows what people can do, collaborating across different languages and cultures, if everyone is focused on making it work.”