Lynn Foster Bassford
Hi! Permission to beam aboard granted! Welcome to HST's Mission Operations Room (MOR) in HST's Operations Control Center (STOCC). As you know, my name is Lynn. I am one of 4 Shift Supervisors. Twelve engineers, called Flight Controllers (4 crews of 3), staff the MOR 24 hours a day, every day of the year through rotating shift work (each crew works a different shift every week). Each Flight Controller is responsible for different systems on their team (i.e., Science Instruments & Pointing Control, Data Management & Communications, or Shift Supervisor & commanding). Sounds confusing? It's not. Just think of the MOR as the bridge of Star Trek's Enterprise except that our 'bridge' commands HST from the ground and we explore the universe through HST's low Earth orbit science instruments.
Flight Controllers are responsible for the HST's Health & Safety as well as real time operations. Real time operations refers to: sending all commands to onboard computers; monitoring HST's performance; transmitting observations from HST's tape recorders to STOCC. When we spot a problem, we assess the anomaly and call in the specialists (System Engineers and several of the important people listed at this Web site). These people will then do in-depth analysis of the problem (while we continue with real time operations), recommend a solution, and give us commands to send as a resolution. Thus as a Shift Supervisor, I not only manage people but also real time operations.
You are probably wondering how I got to be a Shift Supervisor for HST. Well, I've wanted to work for NASA since I was 5 years old. My ultimate dream was (and is) to become an Astronaut. Watching Astronauts land on the Moon and Star Trek taught me to dream of 'possibilities'. Sharing an intense interest with my dad for math & sciences also inspired me. This intense interest made it difficult to choose a specific science major for college. I chose physics after seeing physicist Sally Ride become an astronaut and learning how physics is the basis of all sciences from my 9th grade science teacher, Mr. Ken Deary. Fueled by encouragement from teachers, friends and loving parents I prepared for a career at NASA by diversifying myself. I worked hard in high school juggling education, extra-curricular activities (like math team, varsity softball and soccer, and science fairs) and part time employment at Burger King as a manager (don't laugh -- this provided beneficial communication and management skills). Later, I attended college at the University of Lowell (here my Physics major provided we with a constant challenge). Throughout college I worked as a secretarial assistant in the Computer Science department where my boss taught me invaluable computer application skills. In my junior year, I picked up a second job as an astrophysics research assistant for Dr. Stimets where I assisted him in creating a star map and catalog.
My preparation paid off a few months after graduation (and over 200 resumes later). My mom called me with a message, " 'Mr. Adventure' called to ask if you are interested in working on a NASA telescope in space." Mr. Ed Venter (his real name) hired me and I spent the next few years training and working as a HST Flight Controller for all but one of HST's systems. In September of 1995, my managers promoted me to Shift Supervisor. I am proud to be a member of the HST Team (which includes many talented individuals) and have enjoyed my work here immensely. Every day I look forward to working here because HST is a key to solving questions about our Universe and thus I am always learning something new. Even on a day off I often wonder, "What astronomical body are we going to be observing today and what have we discovered lately?" HST is a part of history. I feel privileged to join my coworkers as a part of it.
My advice to you is to work hard towards whatever goals you have. Team sports & groups or a 'ropes course' (similar to Outward Bound) can foster necessary communication and 'team work' skills, (as well as a healthy body & mind). If you wish to work in a career like mine, most companies now require a bachelors degree in either physics, astronomy, aerospace engineering, mathematics, electrical engineering or computer science. I have found that you do not need to be a 'rocket scientist' or a genius to work here as long as you are a hard worker. Having enthusiasm and being well rounded (diverse interests) are a plus.
In my personal life, I married John F. Bassford Jr. on November 11, 1995, (my name has changed from Lynn I. Foster to Lynn Foster Bassford). Our individual family and friends as well as our mutual college friends (ZOO CREW) surrounded us as we said 'I do'. We have 2 kittens (Dax & Worf). My interests include: white water canoeing & rafting, spelunking, softball (pitcher for HST's Mens Softball Team), bungee jumping, traveling and rock collecting. Some people tell me that I am an adventure seeker. I am always trying to push my limits (physically and mentally). If that's true, I hope to one day experience the greatest adventure of all: becoming an Astronaut (and perhaps touching HST in space). Good luck in reaching your goals and remember that nothing is impossible.