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Bradley Hilltopics

Winter 2007 • Volume 13, Issue 1

A skyrocketing career

Bill CostelloAs a boy, a curious Bill Costello ’83 was always tinkering around with toys and Sting-Ray bikes. As a teen, he rebuilt the engine of his 1968 Firebird. “I’ve always been interested in figuring out how things work. That’s how I became interested in engineering. Fast forward 20 years, and here I am building pieces of the International Space Station and satellites,” says Costello, who enjoys being a part of space exploration in his dream job as senior staff systems engineer at Lockheed-Martin (LM) in Sunnyvale, California.

Among the projects Costello has worked on is the Solar Array Rotary Joint (SARJ), the piece that rotates the entire Solar Array truss of the International Space Station. The SARJ was built about eight years ago and just recently went up in the last space shuttle mission. Costello was asked by the program manager at LM to support the mission because of the responsibility he had in the design and manufacturing of the SARJ. He served as support to the Johnson Space Center team in Houston and watched a live video feed while the astronauts performed their space walk to remove hardware. They removed 16 launch locks on the SARJ, and Costello was closely involved with the design of those locks. He was involved in many engineering meetings to make sure execution would go according to plan.

About seven years ago, Lockheed merged with Martin-Marietta, and the company has become more involved in building communication and weather satellites for companies such as Direct TV and GPS. Costello’s most recent accomplishment was being part of the team that built and launched a weather satellite on November 4.

He concludes, “This is a dream job because it’s a lot like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. We have plans and procedures. I talk to the customer about requirements. Then, I’m involved in the engineering process from womb to tomb, or actually, from earth to universe. In aerospace, you rarely get to see hardware you designed in space. I’ve been here 20 years, and seeing the space shuttle launch in August and the satellite launch in November, both carrying hardware I helped to build, is an enormous professional accomplishment. It doesn’t get any better than that...and I’m happy to report that I still work on cars and bikes. I am restoring a 1957 Chevy Nomad, and enjoy time with my kids riding our Sting-Ray bikes.”

Visit for more information about the space station.