Other Free Encyclopedias » Brief Biographies » Biographies: Barbara Barbieri McGrath (1953–) Biography - Personal to Fridtjof Nansen (1861–1930) Biography » Joseph C. Mills Biography - Remained Focused On Education, Became A Reactor Safety Expert, Designed Power Systems For Spacecraft, Spent Nine Years On The Iss

Joseph C. Mills - Spent Nine Years On The Iss

nuclear jimo power boeing

In 1999 Mills spent three months as the ISS site director in Huntsville, Alabama, correcting problems and overseeing the production of pressurized element hardware and associated software for the ISS. From there he moved to the central ISS headquarters in Houston, Texas. As vice president and program manager in Houston, Mills was in charge of the entire Boeing role as prime integrating contractor for the ISS. To service this multibillion-dollar contract that saw the orbiting laboratory through its design, development, testing, launch, and operation, Mills coordinated several thousand Boeing engineers at five major locations around the country, as well as subcontractors and suppliers in 23 states. Additionally Mills was responsible for integrating the contributions of the ISS's 16 partner countries. Dr. Mills told CBB that his work on the ISS was, by far, the most satisfying project of his career. "In the early part of my career, working at the leading edge of nuclear science—Star Wars and nuclear energy—nothing was ever built. The ISS was my first opportunity to see the fruits of my labor—from design all the way to launch, utilization, and discoveries. I was leading the thousands of folks who were doing it and nurturing young careers."

Because of his background in nuclear power systems, in 2003 Boeing asked Mills to try to secure NASA's JPL JIMO contract. JIMO was a major component of NASA's ambitious Prometheus Program to develop nuclear-fission-powered propulsion systems for the exploration of deep space. The Prometheus Jupiter Icy Moons spacecraft would be designed to orbit three planet-sized moons of Jupiter—Callisto, Ganymede, and Europa—which may contain huge oceans beneath their icy surfaces. Plans for JIMO included the use of nuclear-electric power, a technology that uses converters to transform reactor heat into electricity to power the spacecraft thrusters more directly than conventional reactors that heat steam to turn turbines. Mills believed that such a system would enable JIMO to orbit the Jovian moons for years, conducting detailed scientific observations and experiments.

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