The handiwork of a Clintonville native will help a new piece of equipment function on the International Space Station.
Kent Fisher, 28, who lived in Clintonville and attended St. Charles Preparatory School in Columbus, is part of a team of NASA researchers who assembled the Hermes Facility, an "experiment station" designed to communicate remotely with scientists.
The device was created by Kristen John, a researcher with the Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science division of NASA's Johnson Space Center, and is intended to study asteroids -- specifically the "layer of dusty, fragmented debris covering asteroids and moons created by impacts from meteorites and other forces on their surfaces," according to Fisher.
Fisher, a flight systems designer with the ARES division who now lives in Houston with his wife, Olivia, led the development of Hermes' vacuum system.
Hermes was carried to the International Space Station via the SpaceX CRS-17 ferry flight.
For Fisher, who has been full time at the Johnson Space Center since 2017, the project marked a major career milestone.
"Hermes is very significant for me," he said. "It is the first flight project that I am a system lead designer and manufacturer (on). It will also be the first project that I will be working operations, commanding the experiment from the ground while it is on the International Space Station. We were able to build Hermes in my newly established Advanced Concepts for Exploration lab at JSC."
At the University of Cincinnati, Fisher was in NASA's Pathways internship program, which allowed him to spend multiple semesters in Houston at the JSC. While earning his master's degree, he continued with other NASA internships before finally reaching full-time status.
After all that work, he said projects such as Hermes are the reward.
"Working on flight projects -- which is how we refer to projects for things that are going to space -- is an intense and rewarding process," he said.
"There are frequent design reviews and very stringent requirements for how things must be built, which can lead to a high-stress work environment."
While space-related research and activity may be relatively commonplace at a space center, Fisher said the allure hasn't worn off.
"Sending things to space is never boring," he said. "There is a lot of work involved in building hardware for the space station and there are different challenges on each new project that keep the job interesting."