Meet Sarah Miller, the United Launch Alliance (ULA) point person who leads the launch site integration of payloads atop our rockets.
As the Launch Operations (LOPS) payloads engineering manager, Sarah recently oversaw the placement of NOAA's Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS)-2 weather observatory and NASA's Low-Earth Orbit Flight Test of an Inflatable Decelerator (LOFTID) atop an Atlas V 401 rocket at Vandenberg Space Force Base, California. The launch is planned for Nov. 10 at 1:25 a.m. PST (4:25 a.m. EST; 0925 UTC).
"My team receives and processes the flight hardware, including the payload fairings and payload adapters, works with the customer teams to mate their spacecraft to the adapters, encapsulates the integrated spacecraft stack, mates the encapsulated assembly at the pad and then supports access requirements and final closeouts prior to launch," Sarah explained.
"LOFTID has been a very unique and challenging aspect of this mission that has been fun to work with the multiple payload adapters and separation systems involved in the configuration."
Born and raised in Colorado, Sarah headed to Southern California where she attended University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and earned a bachelor's degree in Aerospace Engineering. She then returned to Colorado and earned her master's in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Colorado, with a focus area on astrodynamics and satellite navigation systems.
She began her ULA career in the summer of 2014 as an electrical engineering intern at Cape Canaveral. "After I finished grad school, I returned to ULA at the Cape in the Atlas airborne electrical group. In that group, I was responsible for the avionics and instrumentation systems on both stages and also supported ordnance operations," she said.
After four years in that role, Sarah moved to the payloads engineering team as the lead and six months later became the payloads engineering manager, a role she has served for almost four years.
"In LOPS payloads engineering, we are responsible for payload processing for all programs on both coasts. This includes aligning all ULA and customer schedules for processing, reviewing engineering and paperwork, ensuring my team has all the resources they need to process, and working through non-conformance items with the ULA and customer teams," Sarah said.
For the JPSS-2/LOFTID launch, the ULA website will provide countdown status updates in our live blog beginning Nov. 9, at 5:15 p.m. PST (8:15 p.m. EST; 0115 UTC). A launch webcast starts shortly before liftoff.