Jon N. Cowart is the NASA partner manager working with SpaceX during the agency's Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) initiative and will be the mission manager for the first flight with crew during SpaceX’s Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contract. Through CCtCap, SpaceX will demonstrate the ability of its system to safely transport astronauts to and from the International Space Station.
Through phases with aerospace industry partners, NASA's Commercial Crew Program (CCP) is leading the nation's effort to facilitate commercial vehicle development and certification to enable the safe transportation of NASA astronauts to and from the space station and other low-Earth orbit destinations. During CCiCap, SpaceX has made significant progress developing and testing its integrated Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket combination. Cowart received a Silver Snoopy in 2014 for his work with SpaceX during CCiCap.
Prior to joining CCP, Cowart was the deputy mission manager for Ares I-X. As part of the Ares I-X Mission Management Office, he was responsible for the entire Ares I-X flight test mission, which launched successfully Oct. 28, 2009.
Cowart joined the Kennedy team in 1987 as a project engineer for space shuttle Atlantis. Since then, he has led many teams, including the International Space Station flight 2A and 3A processing teams, the orbiter docking system team, U.S. Destiny Laboratory and airlock processing teams, and shuttle Discovery engineering team.
In 1993, Cowart was one of 50 people chosen from throughout NASA to participate in the Space Station Redesign. He received the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal for that effort. In August 1995, Cowart worked on special projects for the chief engineer of NASA in Washington, D.C., including next-generation spacesuits and launch vehicle reliability.
He also held the manager position of the Orbiter Sustaining Engineering Office at Kennedy, representing the Orbiter Project Office located at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. During the recovery and investigation of the shuttle Columbia tragedy, Cowart was the NASA engineering lead of the Columbia Reconstruction Team.
Before joining NASA, Cowart was a 2nd lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force assigned to the 6595th Shuttle Test Group at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. He worked as a solid rocket booster (SRB) mechanical systems and handling engineer there for his first two years. He also was in charge of the first-ever stack of SRBs at Vandenberg and later was promoted to orbiter mechanical systems engineer. Cowart received the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal for his work with the shuttle program.
Cowart was born in Mobile, Ala., graduated from Tucker High School near Atlanta, and then enlisted in the U.S. Air Force Reserve. He graduated from Georgia Tech in 1983, earning a bachelor's degree in Aerospace Engineering and an Air Force Commission.
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Astronauts may soon ride on US rockets and in US spaceships for the first time since the last Space Shuttle flight. Jon Cowart of NASA is working with SpaceX toward the first launch of a Dragon spacecraft with humans on board.