SP-4310 Way Station to Space

 

- Chapter 11 -

Acceptance and Trust

 

 

[255] NASA Blue

Jerry Hlass came to the National Space Technology Laboratories (NSTL) in 1976 with a challenging, long-range plan that he hoped would help guide his organization from one "mountain peak" to another, until his team climbed high enough to place a "gold star" on the blue NASA flag. With the Navy moving into the middle of the site, the Army hovering on the site's northern border, and the Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) occupying the test complex, Hlass's troops had to find a toehole somewhere on the banks of the Pearl River before starting their upward journey.1

Hlass began his climb by reclaiming the Earth Resources Lab (ERL) from the Computer Complex in Slidell, Louisiana, and bringing it home to the NSTL. He continued his climb upward by claiming the NSTL's rightful place in the Space Shuttle Test Complex. Before the climb was over, Hlass's [256] NASA-NSTL team gained the acceptance and trust it sought. Indeed, a hallowed place of honor was secured in the NASA family of space flight when the NSTL became the John C. Stennis Space Center (SSC) in 1988.2

The journey was not easy, the can-do crew traversed a trail strewn with snares and laced with seductive side-paths. They marched out of the woods and up the old Gainesville Road to the top of the hill where they shared honors at the place des drapeaux with their friend and beloved statesman, Senator John C. Stennis. To the victorious sound of trumpets, the courageous men and women of the NSTL pledged to continue their toil for future generations.3

All who made the march did not reach the final victory dedication in 1988. Rocket pioneer Wernher von Braun was taken by cancer in 1977, and Jackson Balch died of an untimely heart attack in 1980. The deaths of these two respected men were mourned by their comrades and Gulf Coast friends, who also remembered their compassion and valor during the Hurricane Camille tragedy of 1969.4

 

The Foundation

Hlass knew he had a tough time ahead. He recognized that he had to build a "stronger" NASA team and cultivate an even more positive relationship with the communities along the Gulf Coast in order to gain their support of the new NSTL efforts. For this reason, Hlass listed the early implementation of a Roles and Missions Statement, approved and signed by the NASA Administrator, as the number one goal on his agenda. Hlass also, however, considered the development of a Roles and Missions Statement as top priority because of Associate Administrator E.S. "Todd" Groo's recommendation to do so because of the ever-changing status of the NSTL. During its evolution as a space and environmental complex, most of the NSTL employees had moved from one assignment to another, usually working in an ad hoc organization. Even after the NSTL was created on 14 June [257] 1974, a formal organization with assigned roles and missions had not been completed and approved by NASA Headquarters.5

When Hlass arrived, few NSTL employees were working in a job or organization of which they had been "officially" assigned. This confused personnel situation actually put the employee jobs and future advancements at risk. In addition, practically no amenities existed for the NSTL civil service employees. The new manager knew he had to first initiate some positive steps to strengthen the small organization before major objectives could be achieved. For instance, the NSTL had no full-time personnel office. The personnel officer also served as a labor relations specialist and administrative officer. Personnel matters, such as promotions, awards, and important information on health and retirement, had been handled for years by the MSFC. A request for a promotion or award was forwarded to the MSFC personnel office where the request sometimes went to the bottom of the stack to await attention and action. The MSFC personnel actions, naturally, came first.6

Employees might be given a telephone number or address at Huntsville to call or write, but they could not receive personal assistance on personnel matters. In fact, all NSTL personnel records were stored at the MSFC and brought down to the NSTL every few years for employees to review, by appointment only. Functioning for years as an MSFC "stepchild," the morale of the NSTL workforce was harmed, even before the facility was designated a separate field installation. Later, before Hlass could secure a full-time personnel officer, the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) personnel office supported the NSTL personnel function. During the NSTL's first years under Balch and Auter, the installation was in such a flux that little was done toward organization of this type. The emphasis was placed on gaining new agencies for the consortium, including the Navy, and assisting the NSTL tenants as they settled into their work.7

The new Hlass organization was marked by simplicity, with only five functional elements and three staff offices answering to the manager. Auter and Ann Westendorf were included in the Office of the Manager. On the staff level, the new organization chart consisted of the following offices and their chiefs: the Chief Counsel, vacant at the time; the Executive Staff, which included the Assistant Manager, W.H. "Waldo" Dearing; Administrative [258] Office and Labor Relations Office, R.E. "Ron" Groat; Public Affairs Office, Mack Herring; and Safety and Quality Office, E.A. Burke. As in most NASA organizations, the NASA audit function stood alone. The functional elements and their chiefs were: the Procurement and Contracts Office, W.L. Goodrich; the Resources and Financial Management Office, R.V. Callahan; the Facilities Engineering Office, A.J. "Jack" Rogers, Jr.; the Installation Operations Office, A.M. Payne; and the Technology Application Office, Roy Estess.8

The first action completed by Hlass after his appointment was development of a "Roles and Responsibilities Statement." The document was completed and approved by Deputy NASA Administrator A.M. Lovelace on 2 November 1976. The statement's first declaration of priority was the institutional, facility, and technical support of the Space Shuttle Main Engine (SSME) and Space Shuttle Main Propulsion Test Article (MPTA), demonstrating the emphasis the Agency and Hlass placed on these propulsion programs at the NSTL. Hlass also set down as other roles the pursuit of applications and space technology programs, and institutional support to the several resident agencies at the NSTL. The main function of the statement, in Hlass's view, was to get the approval and recognition from the NASA Administrator that the NSTL did, indeed, have a role and purpose in the overall NASA scheme.9

 

The NSTL Gains First Program

Hlass had little time to rest in the early days with Headquarters putting pressure on him to solve a number of outstanding issues at the NSTL. One of these issues was the ongoing consolidation dilemma of Applications Engineering (AE) and the ERL. Seizing opportunity, Hlass saw the AE-ERL consolidation issue as a way to gain a meaningful program for his new NSTL organization. Hlass promised Groo that he would "study the situation" and make a recommendation on what to do with the AE office. Since Hlass included this dilemma as one of his five functional blocks in the NSTL organization chart approved by Headquarters, the space technology [259] applications-oriented group was obviously a major part of the NSTL. Hlass did not want to see any program advanced that would take the AE function away, as had been proposed earlier with the AE-ERL consolidation effort.10

Groo, and others at the Headquarters, first felt the answer to the dilemma was to consolidate the ERL with AE, turn the test complex wholly over to Marshall, and stick the NSTL organization with a menial housekeeping mission that would keep the few remaining civil servants busy for a short time, while primarily tending to the whims of the "tenants." Eventually, this scheme of drastically reducing the NSTL role would have resulted in the AE-ERL going back to Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston. Thankfully, by the time Jerry Hlass arrived, Senator Stennis's office had indefinitely postponed a consolidation of AE-ERL. Had the transfer occurred and had the NSTL organization become a housekeeping element, however, the large Navy element and the other tenants may have then engaged the Government Services Administration (GSA) as their base housekeeper. Such a plan would have liberated NASA of its perceived problems and heavy burden at the Mississippi facility. After all, with the Navy oceanographic elements moving in and the Army getting ready to build a massive munitions plant, the installation was nearing the "full utilization" promised by Senator Stennis.11

Since Groo wanted Hlass to make a recommendation for an early decision on the consolidation plan, Hlass saw an opportunity to tender a bid to gain a substantial NASA program and reach one of his early goals for the NSTL. To ascertain if his plan to make the ERL a part of the NSTL was sound, Hlass asked Roy Estess and other AE members to convince him that their program was worth saving. Following briefings from Estess and AE colleagues, who were all dedicated to the applications role, Hlass became convinced that he should go after the ERL as a programmatic element of the NSTL. Consequently, Hlass came to the conclusion that his proposal would include the AE function (by that time an element of the NSTL organization) as part of a larger and enhanced ERL. He felt that the two components would [260] indeed complement each other. The big difference in the Hlass plan and the plan proposed earlier by Groo to Stennis was that the ERL would be brought under NSTL management, rather than continue being managed long distance as a remote JSC component.12

On 21 December 1976, Hlass met with Associate Administrator Groo and proposed that the ERL be brought under the NSTL management umbrella. Groo was shocked. He was not expecting such a proposal from Hlass because no one at Headquarters had previously thought the ERL should be brought under the NSTL's purview. After hearing Hlass's reasoning for transfer of the ERL, however, Groo agreed, but he told Hlass that the approval of JSC Director Christopher "Chris" Kraft had to be obtained first before the proposal could go to the Administrator's office for a final decision.13

As a result, Todd Groo discussed this matter with Kraft. Hlass, however, played a supplementary and supporting role in convincing Dr. Kraft that transfer of the ERL to the NSTL jurisdiction was in NASA's best interest. In fact, Hlass expected to get a positive answer since he and the well-known JSC director had been close associates for years, and because Hlass had just helped Kraft justify facilities in Houston to support Space Shuttle operations. When Hlass posed the transfer to Kraft, the respected center director replied, "There's more than one way to get the job done, Jerry, but you must promise to take care of my people." Gaining Kraft's concurrence was not, however, the only backing Hlass needed to obtain. Groo also asked Hlass to inform ERL Director Wayne Mooneyhan of the decision and solicit his support. At first, Mooneyhan objected to the transfer. After all, as director of ERL, Mooneyhan was essentially his "own boss" with Kraft located in Houston. Hlass pointed out to Mooneyhan that the NSTL would take "better care" of the ERL because the lab would be the NSTL's first new program. Hlass pledged that ERL's needs would be foremost in his mind and would, therefore, enjoy top priority in the support efforts of all elements of the NSTL organization. Hlass argued that because of his management of the dominating Space Shuttle program, Kraft could not heap the attention on the ERL that Hlass was prepared to do as manager of the NSTL.14

[261] Hlass experienced a strong sense of victory when Groo, on 26 May 1977, informed Hlass that Deputy Administrator Lovelace approved the transfer of the lab to the NSTL. Groo made several stipulations to Hlass concerning the transfer, one being that Mooneyhan remain director of the ERL and also assume the additional position of deputy manager for programs at the NSTL. Groo told Hlass that he would "consider" additional personnel for a new Regional Applications Transfer Program function that was being developed at the NSTL. In addition, Groo authorized Hlass to proceed with planning for a building at the NSTL to house a training facility for the regional program. The rest of the ERL remained at Slidell until physical space, which had become a premium with the Navy moving in, became available. The ultimate move of the entire ERL would come later.15

Of course, the transfer of the ERL to the NSTL, where the lab could become a programmatic element of the Mississippi facility, was exceptionally good news for Hlass because he realized the "victory" would serve as a lift to the morale of the NSTL personnel. A smiling Hlass assembled all his employees at the Rouchon House for a meeting. He stood on a small balcony of the rustic lodge facing the employees, who stood under huge live oaks on the banks of the Pearl River, and told them of the ERL transfer to the NSTL. Many were stunned because victories for the small group had been few. But when the news sank in, the employees applauded, believing their future would be brighter.16

Senator Stennis, elated at the NSTL's acquisition of the ERL program, said the organizational change was "another recognition at the highest levels of NASA of the growing importance of [the] NSTL." Stennis also pointed out that the change would bring important ongoing programs such as the new Regional Applications Program (RAP) to the Mississippi facility. RAP was designed to provide the training of state and local personnel in 17 "Sunbelt" states in the application and utilization of remotely sensed data acquired from satellites for more efficient management of Earth's resources. Stennis believed that "the practical application of space technology to down-to-earth problems and opportunities [was] one of the most promising aspects of NASA's activities."17

 

[262] Raising The Rent

The need to make the Navy's oceanographic program's move to the NSTL smooth was another important issue assigned to Hlass by the Headquarters during the early phase of his administration. Many at NASA Headquarters had been deeply immersed in the drawn-out relocation of the 1,200 Naval Oceanographic Office personnel. All the while, Groo, Lilly, Curtin and their colleagues in Washington worked under a great deal of pressure from the Congress and NASA to see the Navy move through with as few bumps as possible. Certainly NASA Headquarters did not want further negotiations to occur in the newspapers or on television. For well over a year, headlines, columns, and editorials concerning the affair frequented the newspapers in Washington and on the Gulf Coast.18

With the decisions made and the move under way, many preparations still had to be made by NASA at the NSTL in order to receive and host the large Navy element. Providing office and laboratory working space, of course, was foremost on everyone's mind. But before anything could happen, NASA knew it had to develop a new policy for assessing the shared costs charged to the tenants at the NSTL.19

In fact, the GAO had previously criticized NASA for the method it used to charge reimbursable costs to its tenants for their floor space and services. An audit revealed that NASA was subsidizing the tenants by approximately $500,000 per year. In an earlier discussion with Admiral Snyder, Hlass found the Navy would not object to adjustments in the agreed-on reimbursable costs of $4.60 per square foot of office space. The rates generally were computed for laboratory, computer, and air-conditioned storage, with non-air-conditioned storage being offered at a lower rate of $2.00 per square foot.20

Coming up with a fair-share cost for all 17 tenants on the base was not an easy task. For instance, in November 1973, the investigative staff of the House Appropriations Committee reported that "all" tenants at the NSTL indicated the costs of the support services were unreasonable and they had to [263] spend an "abnormal" amount of money to obtain day-to-day services. On the other hand, Senator Charles Mathias of Maryland said NASA was subsidizing the tenants to the tune of 40 cents per square foot. Given these conflicting claims, it is not surprising that the Senate Appropriations Committee held lengthy hearings on 25 June 1975 on the subject of reimbursable costs of the Navy at the NSTL and extracted promises from Fletcher, Lilly, and Curtin that close attention would be paid to make sure that the cost incurred by the Navy would be properly recovered by NASA.21

Hlass put together his first of many "teams" to tackle the reimbursable charge policy problem. R.V. "Bob" Callahan, Chief of the Resources and Financial Management Office, was the first member of the Hlass team called to start work on developing a new charge policy. Later, Hlass and Callahan asked Levi J. Odom, Theodore Franklin, Dave Hobgood, Morris Crowder, and Clarence Hudson to join in the search for a reimbursable policy that satisfied both NASA Headquarters and NSTL tenants. The Headquarters felt so strongly that the system needed immediate attention that Bill Lilly assigned personnel to join the NSTL finance team, with William "Bill" Waters as his lead man.22

The group finally boiled their studies down to six options to consider for charging the tenants. The team settled on "Option Six," which basically contained two charges-per square foot of floor space used by each agency, and (2) "per person" occupancy charge based on personnel head-count. The team felt this combination would be "fair and equitable" for the small agencies, as well as for the Navy. The new policy, however, raised the rent for all tenants and resulted in a quadrupled rent increase for some of the smaller resident agencies. The only exception to the rule involved universities and State agencies. The team reasoned that universities provided essential higher education services to NASA and all resident agencies and should be encouraged to establish and enhance their services. Also, cooperation with State agencies in support of technology transfer was deemed to be an important goal and mission for NASA and the other agencies.23

Another component developed by the "reimbursable team" was a refined policy for "demand" charges. The demand charges were for technical or [264] facility services provided to the tenants, such as the calibration of an instrument or a modification to a building to better suit a tenant's technical or housing needs. These charges were incurred at the completion of work by a NASA support contractor after a tenant submitted a form called a Technical Work Request (TWR) or a Facility Services Request (FSR). Collecting such charges was a "one time" cost and added to the overhead of the cost NASA incurred. After the schemes were developed, Hlass had the difficult job of convincing NASA Headquarters that his new policy was fair and equitable. Hlass said his test of the policy was simply, "Do we overcharge the agencies, or do we use NASA money to subsidize a tenant?" If the new system could answer these questions appropriately, the charge was considered fair. The policy was difficult to sell in Washington, D.C., because there was a perception, originating with a GAO report, that "those guys at NSTL worried more about the tenants than they did [about] NASA."24

When the package was completed, Hlass presented the new reimbursable policy to Lilly and Groo for approval. Since both men had followed the new policy's development through the spring of 1977, they knew it met their standards as "fair and equitable" for both NASA and the NSTL tenants. The system was approved and scheduled to take effect 1 October 1977. Hlass then called his first meeting of all agency heads to announce the new reimbursable policy and, in effect, raise the tenants' rent.25

Hlass asked his wife Helen to bake a cake for the meeting with the agency heads. This down-to-earth, homey touch became a Jerry Hlass trademark. At the meeting, Hlass told agency chiefs that he "had good news and bad news." The good news was a commitment by the him to provide the agencies with the highest level of institutional and technical support services. The bad news was that the rent had just been increased.26

The settling of the reimbursable policy problem, however, is only one example of the many projects and problems faced by Hlass and his NASA-NSTL team. At the top of the list was the task of helping the Navy's oceanographers find physical space at the NSTL to accommodate the 1,200 people on their way to Mississippi. The move eventually took two years to [265] complete, but Hlass and his finance team laid a sound fiscal foundation to accommodate the Navy and their fellow tenants at the NSTL. In fact, NASA Deputy Administrator A.M. Lovelace told Hlass that the NSTL reimbursable policy worked out so well he wanted it instituted at other NASA centers where NASA had similar cases of host-tenant relationships.27

 

Putting People First

Hlass continued to check off items from his "to-do" list that he brought with him to the NSTL, laying a foundation for his renasafication program, which was intended to build a stronger NASA organization for future development at the Mississippi facility. With the completion of the roles and responsibilities statement, the acquisition of the ERL as an NSTL program, and the development of a "fair and equitable" reimbursable policy, the busy manager was well on his way toward completion of his initial goals.28

But Hlass knew that the lagging morale that Auter and Groo warned him of had received prompt attention as the NSTL team began to blossom in the Mississippi spring of 1977. Major challenges lay ahead for his people, including overhauling the Space Shuttle support effort, helping the Navy with its relocation, and ensuring "tenant satisfaction" by applying sound management for the multi-agency installation. The community around the sprawling site also needed a boost. Indeed, the populace in the surrounding towns and cities was beginning to tire in its support of the NASA installation after years of continued change and ups and downs that resembled a ride on the "Wild Mouse" roller-coaster in nearby New Orleans. It was time, the local citizens thought, that they should reap some of the benefits from the location of the NASA facility.29

Hlass began a two-prong attack to improve the morale of his small NASA civil servant team which had grown to 92, their contract support forces, and the community that had stood by the MTF/NSTL through thick and thin. As an avid participant and follower of sports activities, Hlass knew [266] he needed to develop his NSTL team spirit in order to achieve maximum results at work.30

His natural instincts and ability to attract and "get along" with people, coupled with his graduate studies in engineering management, taught Hlass that he also had to have the "good will and support" of the community in order to be successful in his job as manager of the NSTL. The "good will and support" of the community was more important at the NSTL than at most other private and governmental installations because of the absolute need to maintain the integrity of the approximately 125,000-acre buffer zone in order for the facility to continue as a leader in propulsion testing. Hlass instituted a "putting people first" program to gain support on both fronts-at the installation and in the towns surrounding the NSTL. The local communities, through their strong politicians, had the ability to help him defend the need for the buffer zone against those who wanted pieces of it back for commercial or personal endeavors.31

An early effort to organize and reassign the NSTL personnel into a cohesive, efficient management organization involved the development of a personnel services plan between the NSTL management and the MSFC Management Office. In November 1976, after the Roles and Missions (responsibility) Statement and the new organization plan were approved by NASA's deputy administrator, Hlass solicited the MSFC to help in a reclassification of the NASA-NSTL employees to complete stabilization of his organization. To Hlass's chagrin, the MSFC Manpower Office recommended "downgrades" for 16 of the positions studied.32

Since work levels had actually increased since development of the NASA-NSTL organization plan had its last "official" version approved in 1972, and since the NSTL was by 1977 an independent field installation of NASA, Hlass deemed the findings by the MSFC experts "intolerable." In fact, he became furious and submitted a rebuttal to NASA Headquarters, telling Groo in March 1977 that he "could have the NSTL manager's job [back]" if the recommendations that the manpower study conducted by MSFC was carried out. Groo, obviously well-pleased with the accomplishments of the tenacious Hlass, agreed not to downgrade any positions and [267] ordered another study, which recommended no employee downgrades. The spring of 1977, with the new study under way, was a particularly worrisome time for the new manager, who knew that his drive to increase morale at the NSTL organization would be totally destroyed if people actually lost grades in the new organization.33

With this victory added to his earlier goals, Hlass recruited the organization's first personnel officer, Elbert C. McWilliams. McWilliams was extremely aggressive and initiated several programs to assist the NSTL employees. The personnel transactions and day-to-day recordkeeping, however, were transferred to the KSC. Unfortunately, Hlass sent McWilliams to a NASA Human Resources Conference in Atlanta where his skills and talents were recognized, and he was offered a job with the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) which he accepted. When McWilliams left, Hlass recruited Ronnie E. Carter, another career professional personnel officer. Carter quickly gained the confidence of Hlass, but more importantly, he gained the trust of his fellow NSTL employees. Under the care of Carter, the Personnel Office began to function as a normal office for the very first time.34

The neglected NSTL employees began to receive long-overdue promotions, joined the NASA Awards program, and finally had their own Personnel Office capable of answering questions and assisting employees with their NASA career decisions. Hlass even added a special touch to boost employee morale. He instituted a special "Awards Program," in which all employees were assembled on an annual basis in the auditorium of the Central Control Building where the awards and promotions were handed out.35

Top NASA personnel from the Headquarters, such as the Administrator, were invited down to address the NSTL group and assist in the program. Adding the NSTL "family" touch, Hlass started a custom of staging an employee picnic down on the Pearl River after the ceremony, with employees and their families encouraged to participate. At the same time,several NSTL Financial Management Office employees, under the watchful guidance of [268] chefs Ted Franklin and Joe Weatherspoon, cooked barbecue, crawfish, and shrimp for picnics that were primarily attended by the employees working in the office and their families. Over time, Don Kelly, Herman Hattaway, and Greg Fletcher were recruited to help with the culinary chores.36

Hlass attended one of the Finance Office picnics and persuaded the "cooks" to prepare the food for the entire NASA-NSTL workforce picnics. In fact, the picnics became well-known over the entire agency and were usually held in connection with important NASA meetings conducted at the NSTL so visitors could join in the NASA-NSTL family celebration. NASA administrators, center directors, and astronauts became regulars at these picnics and helped pay tribute to the employees receiving recognition. This new policy of "publicly" recognizing the NASA-NSTL employee achievements was unusual for the employees who had previously been ushered into their supervisor's office and given a handshake "if" they were fortunate enough to receive a rare promotion or award. Their personnel records, that were maintained in Huntsville for years, were brought down and entered into the NSTL records systems. Employees for the first time had the ability to examine their service records and information was available in a routine fashion, similar to any other government organization.37

Hlass did not limit his morale-building program to the small NSTL civil servant group, which numbered only 65 people when he arrived. The new manager was aware that the success of the Mississippi facility and its programs lay with the approximately 1,100 contractor personnel, who not only conducted Space Shuttle engine tests but also actually operated the facility with their institutional, technical, and test support. Hlass made sure the contractor forces were represented in the awards programs and encouraged their managements to participate in employee-relations programs. Even more importantly, he often visited the shops and other work areas and, similar to von Braun, exhibited genuine interest in the each contractor's work.38

Likewise, Hlass developed and maintained good relations with the Navy Oceanographic Office and the 17 other resident agencies at the NSTL. He called his policy for the cooperating agencies at the facility "tenant satisfaction." As part of this program, Hlass set regular meetings with the chiefs of the [269] various agencies during which he utilized a formal agenda, with each agency presenting an "interesting aspect" of their work to the rest of the group. He also discussed any changes, ranging from the mundane to the significant, that NASA proposed in its support of the agencies. These changes included allocation of parking spaces, the need for medical facilities, available day care for employees' young children, and a fitness program and gymnasium center. In fact, from several of these sessions came the first-class medical clinic, child-care facility, auto service station, dry cleaners, and fitness center for all NSTL employees. Hlass gained, as a direct response to this management style, the confidence and trust of most of the agency heads.39

 

Good Will And Support

Before being stationed at the NSTL, Hlass became very familiar with the communities surrounding the test site. During the early 1960s, he flew into New Orleans on several occasions, rented a car, and drove the winding, two-lane U.S. Highway 90 through the marshes to the Gulf Coast. During these trips he cultivated a number of friends in the Pass Christian and Long Beach area and became acquainted with restaurants, motels, and other businesses he frequented. As chief of Space Flight Facilities in the early 1970s, Hlass reacquainted himself with the area, making trips to the site to follow modifications of the A-1 and A-2 test stands and support facilities in the Test Complex.40

While working on his master's thesis in 1970-1971, he plunged into an in-depth study of the early history, and the development and community impact of the testing facility on the Gulf Coast area. To accomplish the task, he consulted with Jackson Balch and with Dr. Mary Holman of George Washington University, who had by that time completed a community impact study for NASA. Consequently, the newly appointed manager brought a historical and current knowledge of the community situation on the Gulf Coast that he had gained as a result of his exposure to and study of the area while working on his graduate degree. Through his studies, Hlass [270] felt the community developed a negative feeling toward NASA because of the political battles associated with personnel downsizing and the site's evolution from a single-purpose rocket test site to a multi-agency space and environmental complex.41

Hlass feared the negative community feelings could evolve into "ammunition" for some buffer zone landowners to attempt to regain possession of parts of the huge landmass surrounding the installation that NASA held in easements. Hlass believed that the "chipping away," should parcels of land be returned, could lead to wholesale losses of land. Without the buffer zone, NASA's ability to test large propulsion systems would also be lost. Hlass was not the only official at the NSTL to recognize the potential damage that could result from buffer land loss. Admiral Snyder also confirmed that the Navy was "not interested" in the site without the buffer zone.42

The encroachment of private and commercial developments on the MSFC in Huntsville was essentially the reason the giant propulsion center was virtually out of the rocket- testing business by the early 1970s. Only small development engines could be tested for short durations at the MSFC and larger engines were limited to short-duration runs because homes and businesses were built right up to the security fence. Hlass knew he had to maintain the good will and support of the surrounding communities in order to preserve the NSTL for future test programs.43

For this reason, Hlass immediately began to meet privately with such influential community leaders as Leo Seal, Jr., of Bay St. Louis, who was President of the Hancock Bank; Mayor Grady Thigpen of Picayune; and long-time coast resident Roy Baxter, Jr., of Pearlington. Hlass sought their opinions concerning the NASA installation and he listened to their recommendations for improving relations between the site and the communities.44

Hlass asked for the advice of his own staff members and enlisted their help in working with the various communities in which they resided. For example, in the Mississippi communities, he depended on A.J. Rogers, Jr., for the Gulfport area; Mark Payne for the Long Beach community; Mack [271] Herring for Pass Christian and Harrison County; Ed Ling for the Bay St. Louis-Waveland area and Hancock County; and Henry Auter and Roy Estess for Picayune and Pearl River County; and in the Louisiana communities he called upon Bob Callahan for Slidell and St. Tammany Parish.45

Hlass also instituted an annual "Community Leaders' Breakfast" and invited elected officials, business people, civic leaders, and educators to meet at the NSTL for a breakfast briefing and discussions. At these early morning sessions, Hlass used his modest discretionary fund to treat everyone to breakfast. After the meal, Hlass would address the community visitors with a full and meaningful status report on the installation's progress. Hlass and members of his staff would spend weeks compiling the latest information on where personnel lived, annual salaries, and education levels. He would illustrate the total dollar impact of the facility in Mississippi and Louisiana, as well as the dollar figure of the impact within a "50-mile radius" of the NSTL. In addition, Hlass gave a status report, highlighted potential new programs, and outlined the status of the joint NSTL and community programs, such as fire protection and mosquito control.46

These meetings were very popular among the community leaders and attracted 70-100 people from the communities, the counties and parish and the State governments. Not only did the leaders appreciate the useful information, but they also enjoyed the warm Hlass hospitality.47

Hlass called his first community gathering a "get- acquainted" meeting and invited leaders from Harrison, Pearl River, and Hancock Counties in Mississippi and St. Tammany Parish in Louisiana to the NSTL. Many of the invitees had already met the new manager, but the 2 August 1977 session was the first in which Hlass shared the status of the NSTL programs, community impact data, and future plans. He stressed the need to maintain the buffer zone, telling the leaders that the acoustic easement area around the site gave the NSTL a "competitive advantage" in testing rockets.48

Hlass told the group the population of the NSTL, as of 26 July 1977, was 2,600 employees and would climb to 3,100 in August 1978 when the Navy's first new building was completed and additional personnel arrived from Maryland. He proudly pointed out that the NSTL had pumped some $64 million into the local economy the previous year. Hlass also told his community "friends" that NSTL employees set a goal in 1978 of $70,000 in [272] charitable gifts to be distributed by the United Way. The program, which has come to be known as the Combined Agency Campaign, at the facility, was initiated as a result of the NSTL employee concern over community development in the counties and parishes in which they lived.49

Hlass also revealed statistics at this meeting concerning the disposition of personnel working at the NSTL on the surrounding areas. He said that of the total number of current employees at the NSTL, 448 resided in Hancock County, 643 had homes in Harrison County, 786 lived in Pearl River County, 632 resided in St. Tammany Parish and other Louisiana locations, and 81 lived in other Mississippi areas. Hlass also went into great detail explaining the missions of NASA and the resident agencies, trying to make sure the community leaders left the meeting with a clear understanding of the work under way at the NSTL.50

Hlass's first venture into the public domain with his "good neighbor" policy proved to be highly successful. The community briefing received positive writeups in the Gulf Coast newspapers. Following the meeting, Maria Watson wrote an "analysis" of the NSTL that appeared in The (Gulfport, MS) Sun-Herald offering a "capsulized" view of the American space program's intricacies and its integration into the "everyday life of the average citizen." David Farrell wrote in a very positive Picayune (MS) Item editorial, entitled "A Good Neighbor Is NSTL Facility," that the NSTL was truly in the business of helping people and that Picayune was "very fortunate to have such a good neighbor." Later, Hlass took his positive message on the road, seeking "good will and support" at such meetings as the annual "Hancock Bank Economic Symposium," and the annual Chamber of Commerce banquets in Picayune and Hancock County. Indeed, the new manager quickly became a popular figure along the Gulf Coast.51

 

Follow The Money

Hlass was, according to at least one of his closest associates, a total "NASA man who would bleed NASA blue if he were cut." He shared [273] the view of most Headquarters and field center managers that the success of the nation's civil space program would fly on the wings of the new Space Shuttle. At the beginning of his tenure as the NSTL manager, Hlass placed the support of SSME testing as the number-one objective on his "Roles and Responsibilities" Statement.52

By late summer 1977, with his other goals accomplished or moving toward completion, Hlass began to focus on his main priority - strengthening the NSTL Space Shuttle test- support team and developing a strong foundation for future propulsion programs. To accomplish this task, he had to guide his team through an equally determined MSFC effort to keep total control of the entire Space Shuttle Test Complex. In fact, the MSFC program office even hampered the NSTL from maintaining the quality and readiness of the test and support facilities within its own complex.53

The idiom, "Follow the Money," was most applicable in solving the dilemma in which Hlass and his NSTL Space Shuttle support team found themselves. To be sure, Hlass's bosses at NASA Headquarters were expecting their new man in Mississippi to ensure support of the SSME development program and the MPTA. In addition, if something went wrong with a test that was deemed the fault of the complicated and extensive support effort, Hlass would be held responsible.54

The funding for the shuttle program, however, was not controlled by the NSTL. True, the funds came from the Office of Space Flight in Washington, passed through the MSFG program office, and were then placed in the NSTL Financial Management Office. With part of these funds, the NSTL provided shuttle test support through a contractual arrangement with Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC), its technical support contractor, and Pan Am's Range and Test Support Services Laboratory, which functioned as a subcontractor to CSC.55

[274] The NSTL management problem centered around the fact that the MSFC Resident Office directed the Space Shuttle support work of CSC and Pan Am, leaving the NSTL unable to control the efforts of its own contractors. Problems erupted because of the differing operating philosophies of the MSFC and the NSTL. MSFC managers took a typical program-office view. They were more interested in the short-term operation, with their sights set on the testing of the shuttle engines and the MPTA in time to support the first shuttle launch. The NSTL, too, was interested in the same scenario, but the Mississippi installation also had to consider the care and maintenance of the installation, including propellant barges, high-pressure gas and water systems, instrumentation, and even the NSTL test stands used by the MSFC. On the other hand, the MSFC wanted to use the funds for its current testing program, conducting the NSTL shuttle engine tests at the lowest possible cost.56

The NSTL managers and engineers believed their MSFC counterparts did not share their interest or concern for maintenance and long-term care of the NSTL. Furthermore, Hlass contended that critical spare parts, such as exotic valves used on the barges and in the high-pressure gas facility, were not available to support the test program if an existing part failed. Some parts could take a year to replace, and the entire shuttle program could be held up.57

Naturally, Hlass did not want his test team to be responsible for such an occurrence, especially if a better test support operating plan could be instituted that would prevent the delay of a shuttle test and launch. At the same time, however, the MSFC did not want to lose the testing "independence" it enjoyed at the NSTL. In order to fully achieve the goal of never holding up a test, Hlass and his team knew they had to control the money sent from NASA Headquarters to the MSFC for use in shuttle engine testing at the NSTL facility.58

For instance, the hulls of the critical propellant barges were rusting and badly in need of repair, but the MSFC would not allow the NSTL support personnel to spend shuttle money on the task. That attitude was not acceptable to Hlass or his people, who were generally very frugal with their funding and...

 


[
275]

The tugboat Apollo heads down river to New Orleans for another load of liquid hydrogen to support Space Shuttle Main Engine testing. (SSC-78-447-27).

The tugboat Apollo heads down river to New Orleans for another load of liquid hydrogen to support Space Shuttle Main Engine testing. (SSC-78-447-27).

 

...equipment. At the same time, however, the NSTL team was also interested in the proper care of their installation as well as the success of the Space Shuttle engine test program.59

Hlass worked very hard during his first few years as NSTL manager, to secure the funds to provide first-class technical support to the SSME and MPTA test programs. He spent hours with Bill Lilly, Richard "Dick" Wisniewski, and Tommy Newman at the Headquarters, presenting the NSTL side of the funding story. Indeed, Hlass also "walked the walk" to strengthen the test support effort by using funds he helped secure for the upgrade of the laboratories and their services, as well as taking care of the big ticket components inside the Space Shuttle Test Complex.60

[276] NASA essentially had two types of funding that could accomplish the goals Hlass and the NASA-NSTL team sought to achieve: (1) Research and Program Management (R&PM) and (2) Research and Development (R&D). Hlass had some success in obtaining R&PM money when the ERL was transferred back to the NSTL. Approximately $600,000 of that fund came to the Mississippi facility as a result of the ERL transfer. Hlass and members of his staff finally convinced Lilly and Wisniewski that placing the R&D Space Shuttle funds directly in the NSTL's hands and giving the test support effort control of its own destiny was the "right thing to do." Along the way, however, Hlass and his engineers, A.J. Rogers, Jr., Harry Guin, J.S. "Steve" Dick, Mark Paine, Dave Johnson, and Jim Coward, made their "pitch" several times.61

Guin, with his subtle and persistent "sales" personality, "softened up" the Headquarters officials with informal chats. Hlass actually took the Headquarters personnel around the NSTL site, showing them the rusting propellant barge. The NSTL manager gained the confidence of Acting NASA Administrator Lovelace, who directed his staff to "work [out] the NSTL funding problem." The process was slowed by MSFC program officials, who presented a different view on how the money should be spent. The MSFC could not deny they received anything less than superb support from the NSTL test complex. In fact, no test had ever been held up due to the NSTL support efforts. The first R&PM funds for shuttle support to go directly to the NSTL totalled only $1 million. By 1984, that figure grew to about $7 million and remained at that level for several years. The most important aspect of obtaining the R&PM money, in Hlass's mind, was the recognition that the NSTL was now a permanent field installation and should be supported in a manner similar to other NASA sister installations, such as MSFC, JSC, and KSC, with appropriate R&PM and R&D funding. At that time, component facilities in the NASA scheme of field installations did not independently receive R&PM money. Once they got these funds, Hlass and his people could begin to upgrade their facilities and laboratories and purchase needed equipment to take care of their base for long-range shuttle testing and for future test programs. Similar and successful efforts eventually led to the NSTL receiving direct funding from Shuttle R&D funds in support of the facility's shuttle [277] test support responsibilities. As Steve Dick observed, Hlass led the NSTL team on its quest to "regain our heritage" in the test complex.62

 

In Support Of The Space Shuttle

The "money trail" for Space Shuttle test support and upkeep of the NSTL installation had little, if any, effect on the day-to-day support of shuttle engine testing. Those involved in the support effort worked as a team, but came from several organizational elements. The engineers and technicians responsible were attached to the MSFC Resident Office, the NASA Facilities Engineering Office, Propulsion Test Support Division, the Pan Am Range and Test Services Laboratory, CSC's Laboratory and Field Services Branch, and Pan Am's Special Projects Division.63

Most of the personnel had worked together in other organizations and on different projects for years. Many NSTL test complex employees had toiled through the construction and activation of the site in the 1960s, tested the Saturn stages, reactivated the test complex for the shuttle, and now had reunited for developmental and certification testing of the SSMEs and the MPT. Many shifted jobs with the changing of the various onsite contractors, GE, CSC, Global, and Pan Am. Only the small NASA civil service staff remained fairly constant. A few NASA employees, however, went to work with the onsite contractors during the declining years immediately after Apollo. Some left, but returned with the shuttle program. The support teams personally knew the Rocketdyne and Rockwell engineers and technicians who prepared the engines and conducted the static firings. Members of the test and support teams played golf, fished, and met together after work on a social basis.64

The management negotiations conducted by their bosses up and down the chain of command had little effect on their job performance. As Roscoe [278] Nicholson, Rocketdyne, once observed, "We leave the politics to you guys," referring to the coat and tie managers located in Building 1100, well outside the Test Complex. Together, the test support personnel made up what propulsion expert J.R. Thompson later referred to as the "best rocket test team in the world." Indeed, they were called on many times to prove Thompson's glowing appraisal.65

Typical of the experienced personnel Thompson spoke of was Wayne Roberts, who followed Bob Gorham as head of the NSTL Range and Test Services Project for Pan Am. With a fluctuating number of about 50 engineers and technicians, Roberts's group was the largest of the support elements. Roberts, a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, was one of the first eight people to join the GE Apollo support group at the MSFC in 1962. As a native of the community of Daisy Vestry in Jackson County, Mississippi, coming to the MTF-NSTL was "coming home" for Roberts. He accepted five NASA Public Service Awards, the first of which was awarded in 1981, for the work he and his group, which included Bill George and Gary Lehr, accomplished.66

Roberts, however, was one of many competent and experienced NSTL engineers. Another engineer who worked alongside Roberts in the development of Space Shuttle support was J. Stephens "Steve" Dick, a graduate of West Point, who served as a senior test engineer with Boeing and as a project engineer with GE. Dick later became project manager for Global Associates's Base Projects Division. He helped reactivate the test stands and joined NASA's Facilities Engineering Office with A.J. "Jack" Rogers, Jr., in 1978.67

Pat Mooney, another experienced contributing engineer, a long-time resident of Bay St. Louis and a Mississippi State University graduate, who headed up the Special Projects Division. Mooney, like many of his colleagues, had also worked with the team during the Project Apollo era. He had first worked for Boeing at Michoud on the S-IC program and then for North American Aviation (NAA) on the S-II test project.68

[279] The NSTL Special Projects Division was capable of performing major modifications on test stands and performing any necessary mechanical-type work. Joel Estes, one the first test conductors for North American Aviation on the S-II program, was in charge of the Technical Services Laboratory. Herman Watts was chief of the Field Services Branch in the laboratory, and Tom Weiss was chief of the laboratory's Electronic Calibration and Repair Unit.69

These engineers and technical managers directed the test support effort, providing the variety of services required to conduct a static firing. A portion of their responsibility involved providing the liquid-hydrogen and liquid-oxygen propellants, gaseous hydrogen, helium, and nitrogen, and high-pressure air to the test stands; running the high-pressure water facility; maintaining selected electronics and electrical systems on the test stands and in the test control centers (TCCs); providing communications systems; maintaining the audio and video systems in the test complex; furnishing the instrumentation calibration and repair in the laboratory; performing all types of logistics services; and handling minor and major modifications in the test complex. In truth, these elements provided all of the services needed to run shuttle engine tests. The failure of any one of these many technical support services could delay or stop a static firing. To say the least, all of these engineers and technicians were highly respected by the managers of the MSFC Resident Office and the rocket test teams of Rocketdyne and Rockwell.70

The success or failure of a rocket test rode on the backs of the test support personnel. In many cases, their dedication and hard work often went unnoticed outside of the test complex. Media coverage usually focused on test conductors, who were like the quarterbacks on a football team, or on the NASA and contract managers who acted as spokespersons for their programs.71

The people who really understood and recognized the support personnel for their work were people such as Admiral Richard Truly, NASA Administrator and astronaut; J.R. Thompson and his colleagues at the Headquarters and the MSFC; the many astronauts who often visited the NSTL and understandably [280] depended on the performance of the SSMEs; and Bob Bush, Boyce Mix, and the other members of the NASA-NSTL resident office.72

 

Lighting The Fire

The first launch of Space Shuttle Columbia at the Kennedy Space Center on 12 April 1981 was an awe-inspiring sight. Thousands of people on Florida's beaches gasped when they saw Columbia's engines ignite in a thunderous roar, sending the new space vehicle streaking skyward, with a brilliant orange and white exhaust contrail pouring down hundreds of feet behind the bright white space vehicle.73

But for many at the Mississippi facility, the fire was lit nearly 7 years earlier with the long and tedious testing of the SSMEs and the full-power, three-engine blasts of the MPTA at the NSTL. Most propulsion engineers agreed that the SSME was the most sophisticated and efficient rocket engine ever built. The high-pressure engines' fuel pump revved up from "0" to 47,000 rpm (revolutions per minute) in less than 3 seconds! Designed as a reusable engine for the Space Shuttle, the SSME was first static fired at the NSTL on 19 May 1975. It is interesting to note that this first test of the SSME occurred approximately 1 year after the Mississippi Test Facility (MTF) was renamed the NSTL. In the 2 years after Hlass reported to the NSTL, Bob Bush, SSME Resident Manager, proclaimed the test program was going "full speed ahead," with engine tests occurring almost daily. On 22 September 1978, Bush observed, "We're in business now, and plans are to continue full speed ahead averaging six tests a week." At that time, the main engines had been fired for 23,000 seconds on the A-1 and A-2 test stands. Nearly all tests conducted on the A-1 stand in 1978 were 520 seconds, the duration required in flight. Shorter duration tests of 300 seconds were fired on the A-2 stand.74

[281] By 1978, earlier problems encountered in the SSME test program R&D had been corrected. The long-awaited success of the shuttle engines provided an appropriate "bang" to help commemorate the 20th Anniversary of NASA, on 1 October 1978. But, to the engineers at the NSTL, the accelerated pace of the shuttle tests was just in time to qualify the engines for testing on the MPTA. The MPTA would bring together the three liquid-fueled engines, the huge external fuel tank, and a simulated Orbiter structure, complete with an aft-section of the fuselage, to prove the shuttle's main propulsion system before a launch of the Space Shuttle could take place at the KSC.75

The MPTA program not only brought together the components of the simulated Orbiter Propulsion System, but also prompted managers to gather, what many test engineers believed, the best team of rocket test engineers and technicians ever assembled. Tom Baggette, one of the early S-II rocket stage test conductors at the MTF and a test conductor on the Apollo spacecraft at the KSC, agreed with Pat Mooney that the MPT test program was the Stennis Space Center's "finest hour."76

The MPTA effort actually dated back to activation of the B-2 side of the big, S-IC test stand used during the 1960s to static fire the Boeing-built Saturn V first stage. The MPT modification and activation program at the NSTL was started in May 1974 and at first followed the usual government construction process. But, when the time came to begin the complex and tedious process of installing the electronic instrumentation, fluid distribution system, and other technical systems, the NSTL team felt they could do the job better and more economically than outside contractors could. Harry Guin, representing Global Associates at the time, and Bob Bush, Manager of the MSFC Resident Office at the NSTL, with the help of their associates put together a presentation illustrating that the NSTL could accomplish the task quicker and far cheaper than other contractors, such as Rockwell, who would be using the stand.77

Bush and Guin made their pitch to the MFSC Shuttle Project Office. The two men asked that Global be allowed to pull together the final activation of [282] the test position at the NSTL for the MPT. The MSFC shuttle managers questioned the presentation, telling Guin and Bush they did not believe the job could be done as cheaply as the NSTL engineer's proposed. Guin, in typical dramatic fashion, rolled up his papers and charts and advised the MSFC personnel if they thought they could do the job cheaper to "have at it," and proceeded to walk out the door.78

Bush prevailed on Guin to stay, advised his MSFC associates to listen, and continued his pitch. As a primary result of the sales pitch, the NSTL support contractor proposal won the MSFC's confidence, and they landed the job. Actually, Guin knew he had an inside track because most of the personnel that would be doing the work were highly experienced veterans of the diverse NASA and contractor NSTL workforce. He also knew that his experienced workforce had the know-how and ability to cut corners and perform the task much cheaper than any outsider could that did not know the people involved or the "ropes" at the Mississippi site. According to many, Doug McLauglin and his Global support group were the key to the fast-track and highly complicated project. In fact, a modest Pat Mooney, who succeeded McLaughlin as head of the support group, gave McLaughlin full credit for guiding the work. Among others who were instrumental in seeing the MPTA test program to completion under budget and on time were Al Bush and Greg Ames, veteran engineers at the NSTL and employees of the Weaver Construction Company, which did much of the activation work.79

The activation team finished their difficult job preparing the big test stand for its unique MPTA hardware just before the strange cargo was towed up the East Pearl River and arrived at the NSTL on 24 June 1977. The MPTA cargo came from California on the NASA cover-barge Poseidon to the Michoud Assembly Facility, in New Orleans, Louisiana. Once at Michoud, the orbiter simulator was then transported to the NSTL on the river barge Pearl River, a 50-mile trip up the winding East Pearl River.80

The portion of the MPTA that traveled to the NSTL to be tested consisted of a 121-ton steel trusswork that resembled an oil derrick or a bridge assembly [283] from a giant erector set. The structure was attached to a mockup of the aft section of an orbiter fuselage, which would house the main propulsion system of the craft. The weird-looking structure simulated the clean aeroplane-configuration of the 122-foot- long orbiter in weight, bulk, and structure, but certainly not in aesthetic appearance. The MPTA was assembled after placement in the B-2 position of the huge modified, S-IC Test Stand, with the addition of a 154-foot-long external fuel tank, manufactured by the Martin Marietta Space Corporation at Michoud, and three Rocketdyne main engines previously tested at the NSTL.81

Harry Johnston, the MSFC's MPTA resident manager, and Gerry Wilson, manager of the Rockwell Space Division Resident Office, met the barge. Johnston commented that the arrival of the MPTA components was "the culmination of three years hard work." He then teased Wilson, "And it arrived on time!" The serious-minded Wilson accepted the remark and said the funny-looking structure was like the "rear end of an airplane without the rudder and tail fins." The MPTA was installed in the B-2 position of the big test stand the next day, 25 June 1977, and preparations began to ready the MPTA for its critical firings before the first flight of the Space Shuttle Columbia.82

Bob Bush once commented that it was "the people more than anything" who were responsible for the success of the test programs. His words were never more true than in the case of the MPTA test program. Although each SSME would be thoroughly tested and certified, program managers believed it necessary to prove the Space Shuttle's entire propulsion system, complete with three hot-fired engines, before the vehicle's first launch. Another important part of the NSTL testing mission was to develop fueling and handling procedures for use by the KSC launch. This premise prompted the MSFC to put its best foot forward for the MPTA test series.83

As a result, the energetic and hard-driving Harry Johnston was sent down from the MSFC to the NSTL in order to head up the MPTA program for NASA. Bush continued as manager of the MSFC "Shuttle Office" at the NSTL, which conducted the MPTA and SSME testing. Bush, wearing two hats, later...

 


[
284]

The External Tank rises to its 154-foot height as it is placed into position in the B-2 Test Stand behind Main Propulsion Test (MPT) Manager Harry Johnstone. (SSC-78-016-9).

The External Tank rises to its 154-foot height as it is placed into position in the B-2 Test Stand behind Main Propulsion Test (MPT) Manager Harry Johnstone. (SSC-78-016-9).

 

...served as the MPTA manager after Johnston left. Boyce Mix continued to manage the busy SSME program as the pace quickened with the developmental and certification programs. The MSFC Resident Office had strong support from the Quality Assurance Office's Doug Howard, a veteran of the old MTF, whose leadership was greatly appreciated by the contractors. Another welcome addition to the team was Bill Lindsey, who was an instrumentation and data expert. The support cast in the Resident Office had matured, while accumulating valuable test experience during the SSME test program.84

Gerry Wilson "pulled some strings" to bring in the best test conductors he could find for the project, Tom Baggette and John Plowden. At the same time, however, another senior test conductor, Tom Lyddon, who was a veteran of the S-II program at the old MTF, was added to the team. Baggette had been one of the first S-II test conductors in 1966 when the first Saturn V test rocket stage, the S-II-T, was test-fired. He went on to the KSC and was an Apollo spacecraft test conductor. Plowden [285] was called to the NSTL from White Sands, New Mexico, where he was a facility systems engineer.85

The extremely high experience level of the MPTA team was exemplified by Marvin Lee "Marv" Carpenter. Carpenter was originally responsible for the MPTA electrical/ instrumentation systems from 1982 until 1985, and became one of the Rockwell resident managers. A graduate of Finley College in Kansas City, Missouri, Carpenter's experience in the aerospace world dated back to the beginning of America's space program. He worked on the Saturn V second stage S-II test program with NAA, but also was involved in the Jupiter and Atlas missile programs.86

Carpenter designed and developed the hardware instrumentation systems used on all three NSTL test stands. He was responsible for the installation and operation of the systems on A-1 and A-2 and the modification and operation of the instrumentation on the MPTA. This special knowledge gave him, and others who brought that kind of personal data to the MPT, a leg up on solving problems in the test complex. In fact, his colleagues said Carpenter knew the complex instrumentation and electronics systems "like the palm of his hand."87

Another seasoned test engineer who joined Rockwell Corporation's Mississippi team was Lewis B. "Lou" Nelson, a veteran NAA employee. He was one of the original 18 engineers sent to the site in 1965 to get ready for the S-II buildup who were housed in the old "firehouse." Nelson and Doug McLaughlin were roommates in college at the North Dakota School of Mines, went in different directions with the missile program, and were reunited at the NSTL. Other proven test engineers joining the MPTA team included Jim Green, Mike Polka, Charlie Knott, John Brokowski, Roe Crowder, and Karl Briesackor.88

The nucleus of the unusually well-qualified NSTL team was held together as a result of a decision made in the early 1970s by Doug Howard. In 1971, Howard decided to try and keep good engineers like Marv Carpenter, Doug McLaughlin, Curtis Campbell, Steve Dick, Joe Brown, Joel Estes, and Pat [286] Mooney on the base "in reserve" for future programs. In addition, as a result of Howard's groundwork, more than 30 of the best engineers remained on site after the Apollo testing program. Jerry Hlass's emphasis on building a strong support structure for the Space Shuttle test program and for other possible future programs obviously perpetuated the earlier Howard plan. In fact, Hlass's determination to strengthen the test support effort took the team to another level, once he secured the appropriate funding and agreements to gain NASA Headquarters and the MSFC recognition.89

By spring 1978, with the "right" people on board, the NSTL team focused efforts during the next several months toward getting the MPTA prepared for the first series of tests. Engineers and technicians working on the MPTA program remember the long, hard hours of work as they proceeded through a tanking test, simulated countdowns, and endlessly checked the electrical and mechanical systems. Johnston, a bundle of energy, was all over the big test stand boosting worker morale with his well-known expression, "That ain't no hill for a stepper!"90

The MPTA test team passed the Firing Readiness Review held by NASA's Review Board at the NSTL 6-7 March 1978. The Review brought a number of space notables to the site, there were the members of NASA's Space Transportation Systems organization, including John Yardley, Associate Administrator for Space Transportation Systems; Christopher C. Kraft, JSC Director; Dr. William R. Lucas, MSFC Director; Lee R. Scherer, KSC Director, Dr. Walter C. Williams, NASA Chief Engineer; and Dr. Mike Malkin, Director, Space Shuttle Program. Other important officials involved in the Space Shuttle program from NASA Headquarters, the JSC, the MSFC, Rockwell, Rocketdyne and Martin Marietta also came. Gerry Wilson compared the review to a "jury," although the MPTA group was not literally on trial, their work and status were.91

The review began with an examination of the design and certification of hardware for each element of the test article, orbiter, external tank, and main engine. The members then reviewed the readiness of the prefiring test program [287] and, finally, the status of action item closure. At the end of the 2-day session, the review board gave the team a "thumbs up," but left 12 action items to clear up before the first firing. The gathering of NASA's space transportation "first team" at the NSTL resulted in more than just an approval for the important MPTA test. The bringing together of Agency propulsion and flight experts also showcased the capabilities of the installation and the competence of the test and support personnel. Hlass and his organization began to build on these factors, as they continued to gain further recognition in the propulsion world.92

Smaller reviews were also held, as the NSTL testing team proceeded toward the first MPTA test, because everyone at the Mississippi facility and at the Agency were anxious to prove the propulsion system, which was extremely critical to the flight of the shuttle. The first test came at 11:34 a.m. on 21 April 1978. Although the "hot" part of the test was only l.90 seconds, the puff of smoke signaled that the beginning. A number of the...

 


Technicians install Space Shuttle flight engine 2007 into the A-1 test stand 13 April 1979. (SSC-79-116-7).

Technicians install Space Shuttle flight engine 2007 into the A-1 test stand 13 April 1979. (SSC-79-116-7).

 

[288] ...NSTL employees watched the event in new, covered bleachers installed in a parking lot 5,000 feet from the big stand where the three shuttle engines were fired. The shuttle viewing area was far more plush than the old Saturn V area, which was located on an oyster-shell road, and had uncovered, rickety, surplus grandstands similar to the ones on high-school football fields. As a result, during the Saturn V testing era, many spectators got wet during tests, due to rain or test exhaust. Later, MPTA firings for longer durations attracted hundreds of employees, their families, local citizens, and members of the media.93

With a dozen tests successfully completed at the NSTL by February 1981, more than 1 hour of firing time was accumulated on the test version of the Space Shuttle's main propulsion system. During that time, the system achieved all certification requirements for the first launch, and other objectives for later missions. Six of the 12 tests successfully conducted at the NSTL were programmed to meet or exceed the 520-second duration necessary to put a shuttle into orbit. The final test of the system, which took place 17 January 1981, was deemed a "complete success" by Bob Bush.94

The 629-second final firing was the longest test conducted on the MPTA and the first full duration static firing using flight-type nozzles on the three main engines. Previous tests used a "stub nozzle." During the 17 January test, the engines were fired at 100 percent of rated power level for 239 seconds, at which time one engine was shut down. The early cutoff simulated the in-flight shutdown of an engine and an aborted mission in which the astronauts would return the orbiter to its launch site. This was the "Return To Launch Site" (RTLS) maneuver. Following the test, John Yardley, associate administrator for Space Transportation Systems, said the final test "demonstrated that the people down here [at the NSTL] really know how to make this thing work." Yardley added, "They've done a magnificent job, and I want to congratulate them."95

Yardley's words were lagniappe to the people who conducted the highly successful MPTA test program and to the experienced support team that backed them up. All told, 18 MPTA firings were conducted at the NSTL between 21 April 1978 and 17 January 1981. The people of the NSTL team, [289] "in its finest hour," had proven the Space Shuttle's Main Propulsion system ready for flight.96

Just before the launch of the Space Shuttle Columbia, a confident Boyce Mix, SSME engine manager, predicted, "it's going to work." The calm Mix, a veteran of testing the giant S-IC Saturn V booster in the 1960s, mused, "We've satisfied all requirements for the first launch, and unless something unexpected comes up, we've satisfied all requirements for the following five launches." Mix, in a philosophical, retrospective analysis of the NSTL test program, stated, "I think the location, here in southern Mississippi, has helped us be more productive than we could have been in a more industrial area. We've got technicians, engineers, and support personnel who are very dedicated. If a job has to be done, they go out and do it. We've got a quality of employees far and above many other areas of the country."97

Mix attributed the expertise of the workers to a "certain pride" among the team members. "People will say someday, 'My father worked on the shuttle engine testing program,' and [the members of the test team] are proud to be a part of something this big. It's not just another job to these people," Mix mused, "It's their life."98

The kind of dedication and experience that Mix spoke of contributed to the successful launch of Space Shuttle Columbia from the KSC at 7:00 a.m. EST on 12 April 1981. The awesome, brute power shook buildings miles away at Cocoa Beach, and was heard as far away as Orlando, as it shot skyward on its maiden voyage. The hybrid mix of solid and liquid propellants had not been seen before in the skies over the Florida launch site.99

Robert E. Herring, a space buff from St. Augustine, Florida, was among the approximately one million people viewing the lift-off at the launch site and along the beaches at Cape Canaveral. According to Herring, there was a "Wham! A buff of thunder," at which point he thought, "shake them up Columbia!" Next, he saw "the big fire [of brilliant red that was] twice as long as the rocket ship." He reported that "the vibration [caused his] telescope on [290] the hood of the car to shake and some nearby lady [to be frozen in wonder]." Herring later remembered thinking, as the cheers of the crowd began to die down, "Columbia, you shook the Earth, baby!"100

The flight of Columbia marked the first use of solid propellants to launch a spacecraft with people aboard and the first time ever that astronauts were sent aloft on the brand new space vehicle. With all of the "firsts," Columbia ushered in a new era of spaceflight. NASA now had a launch vehicle with a stable reusable rocket that gave explorers routine access to space.101

Astronauts John Young and Robert Crippen guided the Columbia to a perfect touchdown at Edwards Air Force Base in California after a 54-hour, 21-minute, 36-orbit "flawless shakedown" flight. Via worldwide television, millions watched the shuttle landing. The general populace, and the media for the most part, focused their spaceflight attention on the astronauts and their launchings and landings.102

Most of the time, support crews who work out of the view of the TV cameras, go unnoticed by the general public. Such was the case of the NSTL test team and their support crews. But the people who knew of their contributions to flight were full of accolades after the mission. Without the perfect performance of the three main engines tested at the NSTL, the shuttle would have never made it into orbit. Boyce Mix, who literally lived with the engines for the previous 8 years, stated, in an unusual display of excited emotion, "It was just super!" He proudly said "The engines performed as planned. It was really remarkable!" Bob Bush observed that the maiden flight of the Space Shuttle gave him a "great sense of accomplishment," to know that "[we had] contributed in even a small part" to the success of the shuttle mission.103

A very proud Jerry Hlass, who traveled to the KSC to witness the launch with a number of NSTL employees, their families, and community friends, made sure that his team got part of the credit for the Space Shuttle's success. He said, "It is a tribute to our NASA and contractor personnel at the NSTL who worked very hard to do the developmental testing and certification of [291] these engines. History was made with this successful flight and landing [of] Columbia, and we can all remember, with pride, our contribution."104

The "pride" of which Boyce Mix spoke before the launch was underscored by President Ronald Reagan in his remarks after the first shuttle flight. The "old horse soldier," who, some worried, might not be supportive of the space program, said in a statement following the launch: "Once again we feel the surge of pride that comes from knowing we are the first and we are best, and we are so because we are free."105

Of all the "thank you's" and accolades bestowed on the hundreds of employees at the NSTL, both inside and outside of the blockhouse, perhaps the most appreciated comments came from astronauts John Young and Robert Crippen. Young and Crippen chose the NSTL as their first postflight destination, paying a visit to thank the dedicated personnel for their contribution to the first shuttle flight. Young and Crippen, who had visited the site before the mission for a briefing and to witness a static firing from atop the A-1, A-2 Test Control Center, visited the NSTL on 8 May 1981, just 24 days after the flight of Columbia. Speaking to a jampacked house at the Central Control Building, Crippen said, "You can't do this kind of program without running an extensive test program. The effort that you contributed made it possible for us to sit back and ride. We couldn't even make it look hard!"106

The wiley veteran Young went after the hearts of the NSTL workers when he said, "I am really proud to have been associated with you people because this vehicle is built for the future - the '80s and '90s." The NSTL employees in the audience, people in coats and ties, slack suits, and overalls, stood and applauded. Their pride and hard work continued to "support the shuttle" through the 1980s and 1990s. Throughout all those years, not one mission failed due to the engines developed and tested at the NSTL.107

 


Notes

1. Roy Estess, interview by Henry C. Dethloff, Mississippi Oral History Program, University of Southern Mississippi, vol. 444, Stennis Space Center, MS, 18 June 1991, p. 19, Stennis Space Center Historical Records Collection (henceforth referred to as the SSCHRC). When Estess stated that Jerry Hlass "bleeds NASA blue," he was referring to Hlass's unwavering devotion to NASA and his defense of the NASA program. Hlass's dedication to the space agency is not unlike that of a U.S. Marine fresh out of boot camp; E.C. Kilgore to Jim Beggs, 29 September 1981, NASA Historical Reference Collection (henceforth referred to as the NHRC); Jerry Hlass, interview by Mack Herring, Long Beach, MS, 27 November 1996, SSCHRC.

2. Ibid.; Accomplishment of Jerry Hlass's goals at the NSTL are best noted in his selection twice as recipient of the "Presidential Rank of Meritorious Executive," one of the highest awards given to a civil service manager.

3. "John C. Stennis Space Center Dedication" Program Brochure, 3 August 1988, SSCHRC.; President Ronald Reagan renamed the NSTL the NASA John C. Stennis Space Center at an impressive dedication ceremony on 3 August 1988.

4. "Wernher von Braun, Rocket Pioneer, Dead," The (Biloxi/Gulfport, MS) Daily Herald (henceforth referred to as The Daily Herald), 17 June 1977; "Graveside Service Today For Former NSTL Manager Balch," The (Biloxi/Gulfport, MS) South Mississippi Sun (henceforth referred to as The South Mississippi Sun), 26 August 1980. The death of Wernher von Braun, on 16 June 1977, of cancer touched practically everyone at the NSTL. Many NSTL employees and citizens of the Gulf Coast knew and loved the rocket pioneer. Jackson M. Balch, director of the MTF and then the NSTL from 1965 until 1975, died of a heart attack on 25 August 1980. Referred to as a "Man For All Seasons" in an editorial at the time of his death, Balch is credited with founding the multi-agency consortium still thriving at the Stennis Space Center.

5. E.S. "Todd" Groo to I. Jerry Hlass, 12 August 1976, SSCHRC.

6. Hlass, interview.

7. Groo to Hlass; Jackson M. Balch to Eberhard Rees, 14 May 1974, SSCHRC.

8. "Jerry Hlass, Memorandum to all NSTL Personnel," NASA/NSTL Charter, Organization Chart, and Interim Personnel Assignments," 4 November 1976, SSHCRC.

9. Hlass, interview; Hlass, interview by Dethloff. Hlass felt strongly that the NSTL's first priority was always its test mission. He even raised his voice to an employee who referred to the Space Shuttle program as a "tenant" at the NSTL. Hlass, who had just vacated the position as Director, Space Flight Facilities, NASA Headquarters, quickly pointed out, "The shuttle is why we are here. That's us. They are not a tenant, that's us."

10. E.S. "Todd" Groo to I. Jerry Hlass, 26 May 1977. Groo, who regularly summarized his meetings in a letter of confirmation on decisions reached during meetings, confirmed decisions made during a 15 March meeting in which he agreed to transfer ERL to the NSTL management "with approval from the Administrator's office." Hlass, interview.

11. E.S. "Todd" Groo to Fletcher and Low, "NSTL," 20 February 1976, SSHRRC; Larry Ciko, "NASA Will Move NSTL 'Guts' From Hancock To Slidell," The (New Orleans, LA) Times-Picayune (henceforth referred to as The Times-Picayune), 29 January 1976.

12. Hlass, interview.

13. E.S. "Todd" Groo to I. Jerry Hlass, 26 May 1977, SSCHRC; Hlass, interview; Personal Notes of Jerry Hlass, SSCHRC.

14. Hlass, interview; Hlass, interview by Dethloff, p. 24.

15. E.S. "Todd" Groo to I. Jerry Hlass, 26 May 1977, SSCHRC.

16. Hlass interview.

17. Neville "Jake" Jacobs, "Earth Resources Laboratory Consolidated At NASA-NSTL," The Sea Coast Echo, 2 June 1977.

18. E.S. "Todd" Groo to Administrator, "Status of Report on Proposed Move To NSTL," 22 April 1975, SSCHRC; Hlass, interview.

19. Ibid.

20. E.C. Kilgore to Admiral J. Edward Snyder, Jr., 23 April 1975, SSCHRC.

21. Congressional Hearing, "Agricultural-Environmental and Consumer Protection Appropriations For 1975," Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, transcript, 93rd Congress, 2nd Session, Part 7, p. 82.

22. Levi Odom, interview by Mack Herring, Picayune, MS, 8 March 1996.

23. Ibid.; Theodore Franklin, interview by Mack Herring, SSC, MS, 13 March 1996.

24. SSC Management Handbook, Jerry Hlass, "Management Concept And Structure of The John C. Stennis Space Center, a Multiagency Federal Laboratory, pp. 11-14, SSCHRC; Franklin, interview; Hlass, interview.

25. Hlass, "Management Concept..."; Hlass, interview.

26. Hlass, interview.

27. Ibid.; Jerry Hlass, interview by Henry C. Dethloff, pp. 30-31.

28. Ibid.; Groo to Hlass.

29. Ibid.; David A. Farrell, "Hlass Says NSTL Big Boost For Area," The Picayune (MS) Item, 25 August 1978.

30. Jerry Hlass, personal notes, SSCHRC.

31. Pamela Heinecke, "Buffer Zone Assures Future Of NSTL Site," The (Biloxi/Gulfport, MS) Sun-Herald (henceforth referred to as the The Sun-Herald), 11 May 1980.

32. Hlass, interview; Position Paper, "Reorganization And Reassignment," NSTL, 11 March 1977, SSCHRC.

33. Ibid

34. "McWilliams Named Personnel Officer," Lagniappe, 17 March 1978, SSCHRC; "Carter Selected Personnel Officer," Lagniappe, 22 October 1979, SSCHRC. Ed Kilgore, Associate Administrator for Management Operations, was one of the early Headquarters officials who came to the NSTL and presented awards.

35. Mack Herring, NASA-NSTL Press Release, "NSTL Employees Receive Awards," 25 September 1981, SSCHRC.

36. Ibid.

37. Ibid.

38. Hlass, interview.

39. "Medical Services Clinic Provides Employee Health Protection on Job," Lagniappe, 8 December 1978, SSCHRC.

40. Hlass, interview.

41. I. Jerry Hlass, "Search For A Role For A Large Government Test Facility," master's Thesis, Washington, DC: George Washington University, June 1971, pp. 1-10.

42. "Outlook For Coast Bright," The Daily Herald, 24 February 1978.

43. Heinecke, "Buffer Zone...," The Sun-Herald.

44. Hlass, interview.

45. Ibid.; Hlass frequently asked members of his staff to "speak with community leaders," and he listened to their recommendations of key people in the communities that Hlass should contact personally.

46. Neville "Jake" Jacob, "Buffer Zone Is A Must," Sea Coast Echo, 4 August 1977.

47. Ibid.

48. Ibid.

49. "Activities Diversified Now At NSTL," Picayune Item, 4 August 1977.

50. Ibid.

51. Ibid.

52. Maria Watson, "Effects Of Space Program Become Evident On Coast, The Sun-Herald, 14 August 1977; David Farrell, "A Good Neighbor Is NSTL," Picayune Item, 7 August 1977; David Farrell, "Hlass Says NSTL Big Boost For Area," Picayune Item, 25 August 1978; Jimmy Bell, "Outlook For Coast Bright," 24 February 1978, Picayune Item,

53. Hlass, interview by Mack Herring, Long Beach, MS, 27 February 1996; Wayne Roberts, interview by Mack Herring, Long Beach, MS; 28 March 1996; Marvin Lee "Marv" Carpenter, interview by Mack Herring, Pass Christian, MS, 29 March 1996; J. Stephens "Steve" Dick, interview by Mack Herring, Pass Christian, MS, 28 March 1996.

54. Ibid.

55. Ibid.

56. "NASA Negotiates Pan American Services Contract," Picayune Item, 30 June 1978; Mack Herring, NASA-NSTL News Release, "NASA Extends CSC Technical Services Contract," 1 September 1979, SSCHRC; Pat Mooney, interview, Slidell, LA, 30 March 1996. Briefing Notes, "Welcome To Pan Am's World In Southern Mississippi," circa September 1978, SSCHRC.

57. Dick, interview; Hlass, interview; Roberts, interview.

58. Hlass, interview.

59. NSTL Director's Office; "Technical Support To Shuttle Test Program," 1976, SSCHRC; Roberts, interview; Hlass, interview.

60. Ibid.; Dick, interview.

61. Hlass, interview; Franklin, interview; Dick, interview.

62. NSTL Director's Office, "Technical Support To Shuttle Test Program," 1977, SSCHRC; Hlass, interview; Franklin, interview.

63. NSTL Director's Office, "Technical Support To Shuttle Test Program," 1977; Hlass, interview.

64. Marvin Lee "Marv" Carpenter, interview by Mack Herring, Pass Christian, MS, 25-26 March 1996; Lewis B. "Lou" Nelson, interview by Mack Herring, SSC, 25 March 1; Roscoe Nicholson, interview by Charles Bolton, Mississippi Oral History Program, University of Southern Mississippi, vol. 404, 20 April 1992, p. 21, SSCHRC

65. Ibid.; NASA-NSTL News Release, "NASA Extends CSC Technical Services Contract, 1 September 1979, SSCHRC; Roscoe Nicholson, interview by Dr. Charles Bolton, Mississippi Oral History Program, University of Southern Mississippi, vol. 404, 20 April 1992, p. 21, SSCHRC. When Roscoe Nicholson made this statement in 1988, he was referring to the intense focus of test personnel on only matters pertaining to testing of engines, as compared to the administrative and management support personnel outside the Space Shuttle Test Complex.

66. Roberts, interview by Mack Herring, 30 March 1996.

67. Dick, interview.

68. Pat Mooney, interview by Mack Herring, 23 March 1996.

69. Director's Office, "Technical Support To Shuttle Test Program," 1977.; For further information regarding the reactivation team, see Marvin Lee "Marv" Carpenter's Personal Notes, "Editorial Comments - Chapter 11", SSCHRC.

70. Mack Herring, NASA-NSTL News Release, "Shuttle Milestones Met At NSTL," 28 March 1980, SSCHRC; Nicholson, interview by Bolton, p. 21; Roberts, interview.

71. Ibid.; Mack Herring and Johnny Mann, Way Station, video history, 25 October 1991.

72. Herring and Mann, Way Station To Space, video history, 25 October 1991.

73. "Columbia Performs Flawlessly," Lagniappe, 20 April 1981, SSCHRC; NASA Mission Summaries, "Space Shuttle Mission Summary 1981-1983,STS-1 Mission," (Houston, TX: Johnson Space Center PMS-003, June 1986).

74. "Space Shuttle Main Engine," Space Shuttle, NASA George C. Marshall Space Flight Center: NASA Publications Series, 1977; Rocketdyne A-1 Test History: 19 May 1975 to Present (Stennis, MS: Rocketdyne, 1976); NASA-NSTL News Release, 22 September 1978, SSCHRC.

75. "Twentieth Anniversary Edition," Lagniappe, 18 October 1978, SSCHRC; "MPTA Ready For Test Firing," Lagniappe, 17 March 1970, SSCHRC.

76. Tom Baggette, interview by Mack Herring, 24 March 1996; NASA National Space Transportation System, Overview, "SSME Flight Program," NASA Publications Series, September 1988; "Space Shuttle Main Engine," Space Shuttle, 1977; Mooney interview.

77. "SSME Testing Pace Quickens," Lagniappe, 22 September 1978, SSCHRC; Mack Herring, NASA-NSTL News Release, 22 September 1978, SSCHRC; Baggette, interview; Mooney, interview.

78. Gilda Perkins, "NSTL-Reactivated For Space Shuttle," Slidell Daily Times, 29 June 1977; Mooney interview; Dick, interview; For further information regarding Harry Guin's and Bob Bush's presentations, see Marvin Lee "Marv" Carpenter's Personal Notes, "Editorial Comments-Chapter 11," SSCHRC.

79. Mooney, interview; Carpenter, interview; Roberts, interview.

80. Lloyd Gray, "Space Shuttle Equipment 'Milestone' For NASA Lab," The Sun-Herald, 25 June 1977.

81. "Shuttle One Step Closer To Reality," The Daily Sentry-News, 30 June 1977; "Simulator Arrives At NSTL,"Picayune Item, 26 June 1977.

82. Gray, "Space Shuttle Equipment..." The Sun-Herald.

83. Robert "Bob" Bush, SSC History Roundtable, SSC video history series, SSC, 25 October 1991, SSCHRC.

84. "Shuttle Test Crew-Veteran Team...," Lagniappe, 16 December 1979, SSCHRC; "Shuttle Tanking Test Successful," Lagniappe, 23 January 1978, SSCHRC.

85. "Shuttle Test Crew-Veteran Team...," Lagniappe, 16 December 1977, SSCHRC; "MPTA Test Conductor Baggette Describes Role In Team Support," Lagniappe, 21 March 1980, SSCHRC; Carpenter interview.

86. Carpenter, interview.

87. Ibid.

88. Nelson, interview.

89. Carpenter, interview; Roberts, interview.

90. "Shuttle Tanking Test Successful," Lagniappe, 16 December 1977, SSCHRC. Harry Johnstone was a leader and an inspiration for the entire MPTA test crew. Technicians have said Johnstone would look over their shoulder during difficult tasks and say "That ain't no hill for a stepper!"

91. "MPTA Ready For Test Firing," Lagniappe, 17 March 1978, SSCHRC.

92. "MPTA Achieves Requirement," Lagniappe, 20 February 1981, SSCHRC.

93. SSC Test And Engineering Directorate, "MPTA Test History," 3 January 1995.

94. Ibid.; "Final MPTA Test Completed," Lagniappe, January-February 1981, SSCHRC.

95. Ibid.

96. Ibid.

97. Douglas Nany, "NSTL's Future Rosy If Shuttle Successful," Picayune Item, 17 February 1981.

98. Ibid.

99. NASA-JSC, "Information Summaries, U.S. Manned Space-Flight Log, PMS-020 (JSC) August 1986: NASA-JSC Information Summaries, Space Shuttle Mission Summary 1981-1983, STS Missions 1-9," (Houston, TX: Johnson Space Center PMS 003, June 1986); "Columbia Performs Flawlessly," Lagniappe, 20 April 1981, SSCHRC.

100. Robert E. Herring, Commentary, "A Postscript On Columbia," Lagniappe, 22 May 1981, SSCHRC.

101. Howard Benedict, NASA: The Journey Continues (Houston, Pioneer Publications, Inc. 1981), pp. 64-67.; "Columbia Performs Flawlessly," Lagniappe, 20 April 1981, SSCHRC.

102. Henry C. Dethloff, Suddenly Tomorrow Came...A History Of The Johnson Space Center (Washington, DC: NASA SP-4307, 1993), p. 271.

103. "Columbia Special Edition," Lagniappe, 15 April 1986, SSCHRC.

104. Ibid.

105. Ibid.; Roger D. Launius, NASA: A History Of The U. S. Civil Space Program (Malabar, FL: Krieger Publishing Company, 1994), pp. 112-113.

106. "Columbia Special Edition," Lagniappe, 15 April 1986, SSCHRC.

107. "Young, Crippen Commend Employees at NSTL," Lagniappe, 22 May 1981, SSCHRC.


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