Skip to main content

Greenville Business Magazine

The Business Narrative: And liftoff!

Aug 29, 2022 01:36PM ● By David Dykes

Artemis Launch Director is Gaffney Native, Clemson Grad

(Photo: Charlie Blackwell-Thompson. Credits: NASA)

Charlie Blackwell-Thompson, a Gaffney native and Clemson graduate, serves as launch director for NASA's Exploration Ground Systems Program, based at NASA's John F. Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

She will oversee the countdown and liftoff of NASA's Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft during its first flight test, called Artemis I, scheduled to blast off Monday, Aug. 29, 2022.

Named to the position in January 2016, Blackwell-Thompson is NASA's first female launch director.

Her role includes leading and managing the launch operations planning and execution for the Exploration Ground Systems program and Exploration Systems Development Division, or ESD.

She also serves as the cross-program lead to the Launch Integration team responsible for integration and coordination of launch operations across the three programs: SLS, Orion and EGS.

In her role as launch director, she manages the development of all launch countdown plans, philosophy, and launch and scrub turnaround procedures and schedules, as well as training approaches.

Prior to being named launch director, Blackwell-Thompson served as the program's Test Management Branch chief. The branch manages test, launch, and recovery operations for EGS and the ESD.

She also served as the chief of Launch and Landing through the retirement of the Space Shuttle Program (SSP), before taking a leadership position within the Ground Processing directorate at Kennedy upon the SSP completion.

During the SSP, Blackwell-Thompson held numerous launch countdown leadership positions. She served as one of three certified NASA test directors for launch of the space shuttles.

In addition, she served as the chief NASA test director from STS-130 until program completion. She also served as the assistant launch director for STS-133 and through numerous tanking tests.

Blackwell-Thompson joined NASA in 2004 as a NASA test director in the Launch and Landing Division. She has been involved with the prelaunch processing operations and launch countdown since Return to Flight.

She is also a qualified tanking test director and served in that position for STS-116, STS-117 and STS-118.

In addition to her shuttle launch countdown duties, she supported the planning efforts for launch operations in the Constellation Program.

Blackwell-Thompson graduated from Clemson University in 1988 with a degree in computer engineering.

She came to Kennedy after graduation in 1988 as a payload flight software engineer for The Boeing Company. She was responsible for the test and checkout of the avionics systems for many payloads, including the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS), the Gamma Ray Observatory (GRO), and multiple Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) and Spacelab missions.

Blackwell-Thompson went on to work as the lead in the Electrical Integration Office, responsible for the electrical systems checkout for payload flight hardware, as well as the integration of that hardware into the shuttle. She served as the lead electrical engineer for multiple Hubble Space Telescope servicing missions, as well as the research double module (RDM) that flew on STS-107.

Prior to coming to the Launch and Landing Division, Blackwell-Thompson served as the ground operations integration lead engineer for the Orbital Space Plane.

Blackwell-Thompson is the holder of multiple patents related to launch vehicle interface standardization concepts, and command and control methods and systems.

She has received numerous awards, including multiple Space Flight Awareness Team Awards, the astronaut's Silver Snoopy for her work on the Hubble Space Telescope, the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal, the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, and the Rotary National Award for Space Achievement Stellar Award.

Blackwell-Thompson graduated from Gaffney High School. She lives in Merritt Island, Florida, with her husband and three children.

Vanessa E. Wyche, another South Carolina native and Clemson graduate, is director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center, home to America’s astronaut corps, Mission Control Center, International Space Station, Orion and Gateway programs and its more than 11,000 civil service and contractor employees.

She is responsible for overseeing a broad range of human spaceflight activities, including development and operation of human spacecraft, commercialization of low-Earth orbit and Johnson’s role in landing the first woman and first person of color on the surface of the Moon.

GE to Invest up to $5 million In Existing Global Technology Center in Greenville

GE said it will invest up to $5 million over the next two years in its existing Global Technology Center in Greenville, S.C. to create a second manufacturing hub for its aeroderivative TM 2500 and LM2500XPRESS gas turbines.

GE said the new center is expected to add up to 25 highly skilled jobs and provide faster support in the Americas region, reducing order time in the region.

Smaller, mobile, and modular, the turbines — often referred to as “aeroderivative” because they are derived from jet engine technology — don’t need to be housed in traditional stationary natural gas plants.

Rather, like a minuteman soldier, a simple-cycle turbine can be trucked into a wind-solar-and-storage system and put to work almost immediately in a supporting role.

To date, the machines have been assembled at GE Gas Power’s service center in Veresegyhaz, Hungary.

But in response to the anticipated demand growth for these versatile turbines, especially in North America, the company announced it will be expanding its manufacturing facility in Greenville to build more of the units. 

GE sees the total global simple-cycle turbine segment growing from annual demand of 7.9 gigawatts (GW) in 2020 to annual demand of 9.3 GW in 2030, according to Edward Stefanik, the general manager of the GE Greenville site.

“It’s nice to have a North America manufacturing presence to go along with the European presence that we have,” he says. “It really fits nicely into what we do every day, and we expect to see growth in North America.”

Unlike the big-daddy combined-cycle gas turbines typically parked in fixed locations in natural gas plants, the smaller simple-cycle turbines are about 50 feet in length and specialize in at-the-ready on-off capability.

Greystar Breaks Ground on 135,200-SF Industrial Development 

Greystar Real Estate Partners, LLC, a leader in real estate investment, development, and management, including rental housing, logistics, and life sciences, broke ground on a 135,200-sq.-ft. warehouse and distribution center in Monck’s Corner, S.C.

CBRE has been selected as the exclusive marketing and leasing agent.

Located at Mount Holly Commerce Center, the warehouse and distribution building is Greystar’s first logistics project in Charleston, where the company’s headquarters is located.

It will cater to manufacturing and distribution companies with spaces divisible by 50,000 square feet. The rear-load facility is 260’ deep and 520’ wide with 32’ clear height and 28 dock-high doors. 

“We’re thrilled at the opportunity to bring Greystar’s logistics platform right in the backyard of our headquarters as demand for industrial space in the Carolinas continues to grow,” said Mary Hager, executive director, Global Investment Management at Greystar.

“Tapping into key sites like Charleston demonstrates the growth of our platform and ability to quickly meet market demand. We look forward to fueling our pipeline of industrial opportunities for both Greystar and our partners.”

CBRE’s Bob BarrineauBrendan Redeyoff, and Tim Raber have been retained to market and lease the facility on behalf Greystar. 

The building is scheduled for completion in the first quarter of 2023. Roebuck Builders is the general contractor on the project.

Industrial demand in the Charleston region remained strong with 5.6 million sq. ft. of positive absorption for 2022, according to CBRE Research.

Vacancy remained at an all-time low in the second quarter of 2022 at 0.50 percent, while developers are gearing up to meet demand with 7.36 million sq. ft. of speculative and build-to-suit space under construction.

ScanSource Names Chief People Officer

ScanSource, Inc., (NASDAQ: SCSC), a Greenville-based hybrid distributor connecting devices to the cloud, announced the appointment of Alex Conde to Chief People Officer.

In this role, Conde will lead the company’s global People & Culture team, focusing on advancing ScanSource’s talent and recruitment strategies and culture-focused initiatives.

Prior to this role, Conde served as president of ScanSource Brazil. He joined ScanSource in 2011 through the acquisition of CDC Brasil, a leading distributor of AIDC and point-of-sale solutions in Brazil.

In 2015, he led the acquisition of Network1, a value-added provider of communications solutions. Company officials said Conde was instrumental in the seamless integration of the two company’s management teams and structure, helping to build ScanSource Brazil into the thriving business it is today.

As Conde moves to his new role, ScanSource announced the promotion of Paulo Roberto to president of ScanSource Brazil. In this role, Roberto will oversee the strategy, execution and operations of the business.

Roberto joined ScanSource in 2016, where he served as executive director. Company officials said he has been instrumental to the growth and success of the ScanSource business in Brazil, having served as vice president of Operations since 2019.

He previously worked at Anixter and Poly.

Allow us to tell your company's Business Narrative. Send your press release to David Dykes or for more information email [email protected]