Astronaut visits PPG Silica Plant

January 24, 2007
By Theresa Schmidt

A NASA astronaut was at PPG Industries today to say thanks. Thanks for the chemical plant's role in making silica which is crucial for the space shuttle to launch. The white powdery stuff is Hi-Sil,  a product made at PPG,  which is a raw material in insulation for reusable solid rocket motors on space shuttles. And the quality of the product helps to assure that astronauts like Dr. Ellen Baker have safe space flights aboard the shuttle.

Baker came to PPG to visit with employees who work in the Silica Plant. She explains, "NASA likes to go out and visit the facilities of all our suppliers just to give them a word of thanks and tell them just how much we appreciate the high quality work that they do and offer them an opportunity to see what we do with their product."

She's the lead astronaut for medical issues and education programs and has logged more than 686 total hours in space as a mission specialist. "I've flown on three shuttle flights and right now I'm working in support of other shuttle and space station flights and also working in the very early processes of designing the new vehicle that will replace the shuttle and take us to the moon."

She hopes the country will commit to continuing space exploration to the moon and mars. Baker says, "Great nations have always been the nations that explore. If we stop searching beyond our boundaries and our borders I think we will cease to grow as a people."

PPG Plant Manager Jon Manns says they're proud to be part of the program. "This insulator is what shields the shell of the rocket motor from the combustion of the fuel inside." Manns says Baker's visit puts a personal touch on the role they play assuring astronaut safety.

Baker's advice for young people on how to be successful: She says find something you love and do it the best you can.

For more information on Baker and NASA's vision for future space exploration check out some of these sites:   Shuttle Website   MSFC Website ATK Launch Systems NASA Human Spaceflight