Memorial Spaceflights

Robert Grant Phillips

"A dream come true, fly high my love. We love you!"
1962 - 2021

Robert was born October 18th, 1962, in Seattle, Washington to Mary Ellen and Donald Lem Phillips, but spent most of his childhood in North Albany, Oregon. Robert graduated from West Albany High School in 1981. He was a four year letterman in swimming, enjoyed track and field, and participated in marching band as a drum major and playing the oboe in orchestra. He also enjoyed playing other instruments, especially the piano which he continued to play most of his life. He was also active in various clubs, including Latin and Chess.

After graduating high school, Robert moved to Houston, Texas, and attended Rice University, studying mathematics and computer science. He learned to play different saxophones while participating in the college marching band. He graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and Computer Science in 1985, and then earned his graduate degree in 1989 from Rice, with a Master’s in Computer Science.

Robert loved all things science fiction and space exploration. He was just shy of seven years old when he watched the first human step foot on the moon. His childhood dream was to be an astronaut, but alas, he was color blind and could not be a pilot. Instead, when he grew up, he started working at Johnson Space Center as a contractor in 1987 and worked mostly for the Engineering Directorate, including development of training and analysis simulations, automation, flight software, and flight controller applications for the Space Shuttle, International Space Station, Orion, and Lunar Gateway. Robert couldn’t “fly” to space, but his thirty two years at NASA helped the astronauts get there safely. He was employed by Odyssey at the time of his passing. Some of his notable work accomplishments were:

• Designed Antenna Management for the Space Shuttle antenna system. This cut Flight Controller antenna management time by 85% and almost eliminated human errors.

• Was a lead developer on the world's first widely distributed simulation for multiple spacecraft proximity operations with the International Space Station and the Japanese HTV cargo vehicle. This became the basis for all ISS rendezvous training at NASA, include Space-X Dragon.

• Published multiple papers on simulated proximity operations technical issues.

Outside of work, Robert loved spending time with his family, reading (science fiction and fantasy), cooking, scuba diving, snorkeling, dungeon and dragons games, traveling, woodworking, playing the piano, and watching movies. He loved making chili and sometimes participated as a cook in the annual NASA Chili Cook Off events.

Robert will be remembered by all for his incredible smart and beautiful mind, his wonderful sense of humor, to make anyone laugh with his witty jokes and stories, his unwavering optimism with any challenge, his good cooking, and his devotion to his loved ones.

But most of all, he will be missed by his loving wife, two step children, sister and his many surviving family and friends. He was a devoted husband, father, best friend and soulmate.

Robert is survived by his wife Lara, his two stepchildren Helena and Stephen and his sister Jeanette Osbourne, and many other family members. He is preceded in death by his parents, Mary Ellen and Donald Lem Phillips.


Instructions by Reverend Arnold Crompton

When I have moved beyond you in the adventure of life,

Gather in some pleasant place and there remember me

With spoken words, old and new.

Let a tear if you will, but let a smile come quickly

For I have loved the laughter of life.

Do not linger too long with your solemnities.

Go eat and talk, and when you can;

Follow a woodland trail, climb a high mountain,

Walk along the wild seashore,

Chew the thoughts of some book

Which challenges your soul.

Use your hands some bright day

To make a thing of beauty

Or to lift someone’s heavy load.

Though you mention not my name,

Though no thought of me crosses your mind,

I shall be with you,

For these have been the realities of my life for me.

And when you face some crisis with anguish.

When you walk alone with courage,

When you choose your path of right,

I shall be very close to you.

I have followed the valleys,

I have climbed the heights of life.

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