1) My title is "Operations Planning supervisor". It should be Servicing
Mission Operations Planning supervisor because I am responsible for the
planning of HST servicing missions, which are pretty cool things to plan
An HST servicing mission is like taking your car to a garage mechanic
to be tuned up and fixed. The only difference is that the mechanics (astronauts
and the engineers who have to stay on the earth) go to the HST (in the
Shuttle Orbiter) and the car is a telescope orbiting 320 nautical miles
above the earth.
My job is as follows: The Space Shuttle Orbiter services the HST in space.
There has to be a "plan" that tells us here at Goddard how to prepare
for the Orbiter to grapple (grab) HST and what things on HST to turn on
or off. This "plan" also tells the astronauts what they are supposed to
do when they try to fix the HST. I used to be responsible for writing
this "plan", now I just supervise the people who make it. This plan is
in two pieces. One is called the "Servicing Mission #2 Integrated Timeline"
(SMIT) and the other is called the "Servicing Mission #2 Command Plan".
To make these plans requires that we sit in many many meetings and working
groups and listen to what all the engineer specialists say to do. So we
just collect and compile all the activities and things that the engineers
say to do and make the SMIT and Command Plan. These two plans or documents
become sort of the Bible for HST servicing missions.
Note: See #3 below for account of famous astronaut who asked me to autograph
the SMIT for him because he thought it was a work of art.
2) How did I decide on this career? When did I know I wanted to do it
and how did I prepare for it.?
About nine months after I received my Bachelors degree in Astronomy,
I was cleaning toilets and mopping floors at Gannon University in Erie,
Pa. I was 30 years old and always wanted to work in the astronomy or aerospace
field. I was persistently bothering the Lockheed college relations guy
for a job and finally this time he said he had some openings for a fresh-out
of college astronomy major. The job was operating/monitoring communications
satellites. This sounded interesting so I accepted. They trained me and
paid me good money and I had the most amazing time working and living
in California. Two years later (1984) I heard about the HST program and
managed to get hired. I have been here ever since.
3) What is the best thing about my job? What do I like least about it?
The best thing about my job is, I guess, interfacing with the other
people who I get to work with. I was going to say the best thing was having
responsibility but when I think about it, it's really the fun and challenging
aspects of dealing with everybody. They almost all seem smarter than me
(technically, they really are) but we all seem to be able to work together
and have a good time doing it. I have worked with people who worked on
the very first manned space flights and the Apollo moon missions, I sit
in meetings with supersmart engineers and astronauts. I have made presentations
to these very same people and felt high as a kite afterwards 'cause I
was so apprehensive before hand. A famous astronaut was sitting next to
me in a meeting where we were reviewing the timeline that I made and he
actually asked me to autograph it for him. He must have been drinking
or something ha, ha, but I was thrilled. I was at a meeting that I shouldn't
have been at and John Young another famous astronaut sat next to me. I
saw and heard some very interesting things that day. The actual best people
to work with though are the people I work with everyday who have become
my friends over the years, we have a lot of fun working together. After
14 years in aerospace I have never tired of what I do. Also the HST project,
really is a most amazing accomplishment for our country. I am proud to
be associated with such a great project.
The worst thing about my job is that I am technically deficient and I
attribute that to my not going back to college until I was twenty seven.
Somehow I had lost a lot of my ability to learn and the Astronomy curriculum
was so hard and fast paced that I never really was able to learn the important
stuff. But I try and make up for it by working well with others which
in my opinion is essential to any profession.
4) As a kid I always liked looking up into the sky. Stars and the moon
seemed to be one of the things that I felt a real connection to. In other
words, that's what I automatically liked from the time I knew enough to
like anything. I also liked knowing where I was in relation to everything
else, so I had to find out about what was out there. I bought a cheapo
$30 telescope and looked out of it everynight in my backyard.
If I were going to get into the science or astronomy field I would only
do it because I liked it. If you do like it then you just follow your
desires and you will do it. I would not be discouraged by the difficulty
of any science or astronomy curriculum. Brains alone do not bring success.
"Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not.
(Nothing is more common than unsuccessful men of talent.) Genius will
not. (The world is full of educated derelicts.) Persistence and determination
alone are omnipotent."
5) I was only influenced by my personal genuine interest.
6) Things I did and things I do now:
I was sixteen in 1966. That was the start of the hippie era. I was a hippie.
Most all I did from eight to twenty years old was listen to and play sports.
I was in the Air Force from 20 to 24 yrs old. I hated that. I painted
houses for two years and hated that. I went to college as a music major
and just goofed off. They didn't even have a music major program. I also
hated that. At twenty seven I finally decided to try what I always wanted
to do, so I went for a degree in Astronomy, a very hard major, and no
opportunity job field. Who cares, I was liking it. I am 45, never married
and have had too many girlfriends. I snow ski, I flew airplanes but didn't
get my license, I am an avid gardener, I go zydeco and cajun dances every
chance I get and I am just now getting back into sports which I hated
from 20 till 35 years old. I have three cats and an Australian Shepherd,
which is by far the greatest dog on the planet. I am sure he will soon
say something to me in English. I also mountain bike, play softball, golf,
make candles (hippie stuff), throw frisbee, watch Seinfeld, play chess,
drink too much coffee, and a few other things.