An Exclusive Club
After the tenure of Jerry Hlass and the successful completion of his "renasafication" program, the John C. Stennis Space Center (SSC) was issued "Gold Card membership" in the eminent family of NASA research and spaceflight organizations. With full-fledged status in the elite club of NASA centers, the SSC was granted special privileges along with a number of weighty responsibilities.1
The staff members of the Mississippi facility obtained their status in the NASA hierarchy "the hard way." The SSC team earned its membership by working tirelessly for over three decades to prove worthiness of U.S. space exploration.2
 Many of the men and women at the SSC led the installation in playing a significant role in many key NASA programs. For example, the SSC participated in testing Space Shuttle Main Engines (SSMEs), developing remote sensing techniques, promoting commercial space applications, transferring new technologies, and reinventing government by fathering a unique family of space and environmental agencies. Indeed, the pioneers of the space center laid a firm foundation for growth. The SSC's leadership literally stood on the "shoulders of giants" as they stretched to reach higher and higher levels of achievement.3
After years of toil and struggle to reach their new goals, a few of the initial SSC team members were still on board in 1989. These employees were working to recruit, train, and inspire a new generation of restless explorers. The hybrid team of seasoned veterans and their enthusiastic apprentices learned from each other as they combined their talents and resources in developing a new vision for the SSC. Following the dedication in August 1988, the new team dared to dream "bigger dreams" for an even brighter future for the SSC.4
With its new status, the leaders of the SSC quickly discovered that "there's no heavier burden than a great potential." But, in some cases, the team's perceived handicaps, such as its small organizational size, proved to be an asset in their continued effort to elevate the facility to a higher level of acceptance.5
By the 1990s, many within NASA adopted a new operational concept known as "better, faster, and cheaper." Containing a strong emphasis on budgetary restraint, the new business theme proved to be extremely advantageous for the SSC in its quest to become the nation's "Center of Excellence for Propulsion Testing." The well-known SSC "can do" crew of the 1990s was not content with the status quo. Instead, the SSC team elected to choose a road less traveled that would lead to heretofore unthinkable frontiers of leadership in America's space program.6
 In Excellent Hands
When Jerry Hlass accepted a position at NASA Headquarters on 22 November 1988, Associate Administrator Truly selected Roy Estess as director of the SSC. Estess, who officially became director on 20 January 1989, had worked his way up through the ranks, serving in several engineering and management positions at the SSC and as deputy director since 1980. In addition, Estess had gained valuable experience working on important NASA-wide committees. In fact, Estess was recognized for his efforts as chairman of the Space Shuttle Processing Contract Review Team (1986-1987) after the 1986 Challenger accident. He was also recognized as chairman of the NASA-wide Equal Opportunity (EO) Committee for an unprecedented term of three years (1984-1987). For his efforts as chair of the EO Committee, Estess was presented with a NASA EO Medal. Additionally, in May 1988, he was awarded the Distinguished Executive Presidential Rank Award by President George Bush, the highest honor given to a civil service employee.7
 The Mississippi-born and Mississippi-educated director had the full support of a team of his peers - engineers and researchers who served with him for years in the SSC organization. Together they had tested rockets as well as conducted Earth resources, space applications, and technology transfer programs. Many of the programs managed by Estess and his staff were national in scope, providing the opportunity for the SSC group to gain greater exposure and experience. More importantly, Estess and his staff spent many hours together planning for future roles for the SSC that would make better use of the installation's world-class rocket propulsion test and research capabilities.8
Estess's ability to work well as a member of a "team" and his sincere devotion to church, community, and state are two personality traits that enabled him to effectively govern the SSC as director. One member of his staff described Estess as a "straight shooter." Dr. Ramon Leake, Estess's pastor at the First Baptist Church in Picayune, Mississippi, in a completely unrelated appraisal, similarly described Estess as "straightforward" when he stated, "you soon got right to the heart of things with Roy." These personal and professional credentials have proved to be essential in the achievement of major goals for the SSC and the entire NASA organization.9
As a manager, Estess had and still has the reputation for respecting his employees. Over the years, he has become known as a "people person." His office door has always been open to all of his employees. The amiable Estess has never been able to resist hearing a problem from an old colleague or tuning in on a new idea from a young engineer. Estess is as comfortable discussing the weather with farmers at a country store in his rural community of Carriere, Mississippi, as he is exchanging scholarly matters with members of the Advisory Committee to the College of Engineering at Mississippi State University.10
 While in high school and during his college days, Estess played piano and saxophone in several bands, including a Glenn Miller-type dance band and a 1950s-style rock-and-roll group called "The Rolling Stones." His experiences as a musician taught him lessons of teamwork and respect for all members of the group, whether they are performing in the bight lights at center stage or doing their part "back in the shadows." Going into the job, Estess summed up his professional philosophy when he observed, "Being director is an important job, but every person at the SSC has an important job in terms of making things happen - making the place go. The people in the shops and the labs have their jobs to do, too. Working together, we all make it happen."11
In keeping with his policy of staying in touch with his employees, one of Estess's first actions as director was to move the director's office from the scenic, but physically distant, Rouchon House to the second floor of the main Engineering and Administration Building (Bldg. 1100). In making this move, Estess broke with the SSC tradition first established by Captain Bill Fortune and followed by Jackson Balch and Jerry Hlass.12
When Estess took office, all of the senior staff members except one had worked closely with him when he was a test engineer, deputy director, manager of the Regional Applications Program (RAP), and acting director of the Earth Resources Laboratory (ERL). Only Bill Taylor, the installation's associate director, was new to the SSC organization, having joined the staff in the fall of 1988 as associate director. Taylor, a senior engineer and manager from the Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC), brought valuable experience as the MSFC's former Comptroller and project manager of the SSME Program Office. His extensive experience in technical program management and financial planning was a welcome addition to the SSC team that was preparing to make a major run at capturing new and significant propulsion programs for their new center.13
Another senior staff member, Harry Guin, with his optimistic and tenacious spirit, had long championed the idea that propulsion testing should be institutionalized within the NASA system. Guin hoped that the SSC would  reach its potential as "a national asset for captive-firing large space-vehicle systems," a vision Wernher von Braun had extolled when the installation was created. A.J. "Jack" Rogers, Jr., who had been associated with the installation since its inception in 1961, envisioned greater status for the SSC. As a result, Guin, Rogers, and others at the SSC never lost sight of the original purpose of the facility - to test the nation's large propulsion systems into the "indefinite future."14
When Estess took the reins of the SSC in January 1989, his number one priority was to continue to fulfill the installation's responsibility in the testing of the SSMEs. He also intended to promote and support other propulsion programs assigned to the SSC and to strengthen support of the Agency research and technology programs. As a staunch advocate of the multiagency complex, Estess further pledged support of the resident agencies. To say the least, Roy Estess found his new job as director an "exciting" assignment.15
Friends In High Places
Following the successful return to flight in 1988, a number of top leaders retired or left NASA for less demanding positions. A true friend of the SSC, James C. Fletcher was one of the aerospace notables to announce his departure. Fletcher returned to the SSC on 8 April 1989 for a farewell visit.16
On 12 April 1989, President George Bush announced that Admiral Richard Truly would replace Fletcher as Administrator of NASA, and that J.R. Thompson, MSFC director, would assist Truly at NASA Headquarters as Deputy Administrator. These important appointments placed two longstanding SSC advocates in the highest positions in the Space Agency. In fact, Thompson had encouraged the SSC to pursue the goal of becoming NASA's "Center of Excellence for Propulsion Testing."17
 With Truly and Thompson in such important positions, the SSC team felt, as Jackson Balch once observed, the "stars were right" for the SSC to continue along its path toward a loftier status in the NASA family. Indeed, as the 1990s approached, Estess and his staff began to pursue their mission with renewed vigor. The SSC team envisioned an expanded role in propulsion testing in addition to other fields of proven expertise, such as commercial uses of remote sensing and the practical applications of space technology. The 20-year-old space and environmental multiagency complex also proved to be a major asset to NASA, especially with the addition and cooperation of the internationally known, world-class Naval Oceanographic Office.18
"Great Tides" In History
In testimony before Congress in 1979, the noted American author-historian James A. Michener expressed the concern that the country was not pursuing space exploration with the fervor that it should. He observed that there seemed to be "great tides" that operated in the history of civilizations, and that nations must be prudent to estimate these tides if they were to survive and prosper. The SSC's Roy Estess, Harry Guin, A.J. "Jack" Rogers, Jr., and many others on the staff sensed that they needed to move quickly with the new tide in NASA that featured leadership at the top who favored the SSC's long-sought-after goals in rocket testing.19
Estess knew that he had a mission to carry the SSC to a plateau beyond the level that Jerry Hlass had the opportunity to take the installation as its director. Because he felt the circumstances were right when he was appointed in 1989, Estess's principal mission from the earliest days of his tenure was to prepare the SSC for the future. He envisioned the installation's future role to be that of a "multiprogram propulsion test facility." In order to achieve that goal, the new director knew that he had to improve his staffing,  upgrade the facilities, and raise the level of the SSC participation in the Space Shuttle program.20
In an attempt to achieve the goal of full participation in the SSME testing program, members of the management team at the installation marketed the site as a facility with indefinite testing possibilities. Following the 1986 issuance of a document commonly known as the "White Paper," the team members followed a rocky path toward their goal of becoming NASA's national rocket testing center. The White Paper, which was a plan drawn up by a group of NSTL engineers, stressed the importance of "third-party testing" and the development of an in-place contractor and civil servant test team skilled in group propulsion testing.21
In a nutshell, the White Paper called for (1) consolidation of Agency testing at one location; (2) utilization of "an independent, NASA-managed, contractor-operated test team" to provide NASA with a continuing capability to test large propulsion systems; (3) employment of a support contractor to perform data acquisition, maintenance, and logistics, rather than depend on specialized hardware contractors.22
The provisions of the White Paper illustrated the possibility of great cost savings that could be achieved by NASA adopting the concept of a centralized test operation. In addition, the plan also pointed out that the move would save the taxpayers the cost of repeatedly studying sites, such as the south Mississippi facility, Edwards Air Force Base (EAFB), the MSFC, and Arnold Engineering Development Center (AEDC) as candidates for testing future rocket propulsion systems.23
The years since the White Paper presentation in 1986, and the trail followed by the team toward its ultimate mission, have proved the wisdom of the thinking that went into that simple document drafted to change the Agency's approach to testing rocket systems. The provisions proposed in the paper have come to pass. Somewhat surprising, also, the team at the Mississippi facility achieved even greater results than they anticipated at the time.24
 The Search Begins
With the new leadership at NASA Headquarters and at the installation, the engineering team in Mississippi began a seven- year march toward the goal of establishing the facility as the nation's premier rocket-testing facility. There were many events, changes, and milestones along the path toward achieving this mark. The chronology of occurrences was highlighted by hard work, help from friends in top NASA management positions, and even, in some instances, by fate or "pure luck." Granted, the Mississippi team promoting the enhancement of the propulsion mission continued to work diligently after 1986 to effect changes in their mission. This resulted in an ever-increasing and stronger role in managing test support activities.25
By 1988, when the NSTL became known as the John C. Stennis Space Center, control of the support function, activation of the B-1 test position, and the positive actions taken by the team in promoting the Advanced Solid Rocket Motor (ASRM), and the National Aerospace Plane (NASP) programs had all contributed to the installation's stronger position within the NASA hierarchy. The excellent record of SSME testing, which featured both the MSFC test management and the SSC support management, also added to the growing status of the SSC.26
The last official act of Jerry Hlass on 18 January 1989, before he departed for an assignment at Headquarters, was the cutting of a tree to symbolically herald the beginning of the $40 million Component Test Facility (CTF), authorized to support the joint Air Force-NASA Advanced Launch System (ALS) project. The beginning of construction did not actually occur until some time later.27
The CTF was absolutely essential for the aerospace community to seriously consider the SSC as America's "Center of Excellence for Propulsion Testing." Most propulsion managers at the SSC, such as Boyce Mix, agreed that the CTF was the critical element in the future success of the SSC reaching its propulsion testing goals.28
 As the hardware initiatives moved forward, other associated events began to unfold that helped lay the foundation for the SSC to pursue its quest. In June 1989, Estess named Gerald Smith, who was manager of the MSFC's Space Shuttle Solid Rocket Booster Project, as his deputy director. Smith had headed up the important redesign of the shuttle's solid rocket motors, one of the most critical positions in the Agency during the return-to-flight process. With 25 years of engineering experience, the Auburn University engineering graduate brought to SSC important experience, in planning and implementing advanced propulsion test programs, as well as other research and development activities. Highly recommended by J.R. Thompson, Smith added credibility, as well as propulsion expertise, to the SSC team. With Associate Director Bill Taylor, the appointment of Smith gave the SSC two of the MSFC's top rocket program managers.29
Another personnel action that also favored the SSC occurred when Dr. William Lenoir was appointed on 13 July 1989 to fill the position of Associate Administrator for Space Flight, vacated by Truly when he was named administrator of NASA. Lenoir quickly became a friend of the SSC and whole-heartedly supported the idea of recognizing the installation as the Agency's major rocket test center. During a visit to the Mississippi facility after his appointment, Lenoir voiced strong backing of the SSC plan to perform "third-party testing" and for the facility to assume a test management role. In a later visit, Lenoir told the SSC management team that he was "pleased" with progress being made with the ALS and ASRM work at the SSC.30
Further recognition came on 30 August 1989 when Roy Estess and T.J. "Jack" Lee, who succeeded J.R. Thompson as director of the MSFC, signed a memorandum of agreement between the MSFC and the SSC stating that the SSC was responsible for the management and operations of the ASRM activity at the SSC after the qualification program for the ASRM was completed. The agreement also declared that the SSC would be responsible for test data acquisition, onsite processing, real-time evaluation of data, and data archival storage. Although the agreement stopped short of granting complete control of test operations, it was considered a positive milestone in recognition of the  SSC's emerging propulsion management role, especially with the MSFC's acceptance of the SSC's enhanced mission.31
An agreement similar to the ASRM memorandum involving the National Launch System (NLS, originally known as the ALS) was later signed by Estess and Lee. This second memorandum of agreement assigned the SSC even greater responsibilities, including test management, for all NLS test activities at the SSC. An important point in the NLS agreement established that the SSC would provide a civil service test conductor for NLS testing. Having a civil servant as a test conductor, in a function similar to a launch conductor at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC), was unprecedented. Even during the testing of the Saturn V first- and second-stage boosters during the Apollo program, a government employee had never served in that position at the Mississippi installation.32
With optimism running high at the SSC, the Propulsion Test Operations Office, headed by Harry Guin, issued its first charter 14 November 1989. The charter included direct language strongly favoring the SSC's pursuit of stronger missions in propulsion testing and provided for the "management of test operations for the test and evaluation of: systems, engines, and components for the Advanced Launch System, the Advanced Solid Rocket Motor, and all future propulsion systems assigned to [the] SSC." The charter can be seen as indicative of the spirit of optimism as a tool used to sharpen the SSC's focus on developing the facility's propulsion test objectives. The new roles that were given to the SSC in the ASRM, ALS, and National Aerospace Plane programs brought a new energy and purpose in addition to the potential for future hardware testing.33
In July 1990, Vice-President Dan Quayle, in response to the strong support of the Bush Administration for a robust space program, asked NASA Administrator Richard Truly to form an outside task force to consider the future long-term direction of the nation's space program. Truly's response was, "I am pleased the Vice-President has expressed his confidence in NASA.  We will work closely with the Space Council in pursuit of the President's remarkable vision for America's space destiny."34
On 25 July 1990, acting on Truly's recommendation, Quayle appointed Norman R. Augustine, noted aerospace proponent and chairman and chief executive officer of the Martin Marietta Corporation, as chairman of the Advisory Committee on the Future of the U.S. Space Program Task Force. On 10 December 1990, the "Augustine Committee" issued a report calling for the nation's civil space program to pursue a balanced set of five principal elements that included (1) a space science program, (2) a Mission to Planet Earth, (3) a Mission from Planet Earth, (4) an expanded technology development activity, and (5) a robust space transportation system. The SSC managers were buoyed by the contents of the report which was highly favorable toward propulsion and scientific programs under way at the SSC, especially recommendations calling for the development of new and cheaper launch vehicles to replace the Space Shuttle in the twenty-first century. A new family of boosters, of course, would require developmental and certification static testing.35
Prior to the issuance of the Augustine Committee's final report, however, some historic SSME static firings were conducted on all three test stands at the SSC in one day. On 20 July 1990, a 771-second test on the B-1 position, an ignition test on the A-2 stand, and a 530-second static firing on the A-1 stand were accomplished.36
A sharper focus and significant recognition for the SSC came when NASA Deputy Administrator J.R. Thompson issued a "Roles and Mission" report on 8 November 1991. The report called for the SSC to be designated as a "Center of Excellence for Large Space Propulsion Systems Testing." NASA Administrator Richard Truly asked Thompson to do the study in response to the Augustine Committee report that criticized NASA for not having done a "Roles and Mission" study in 20 years. The recommendation made by Thompson was forwarded by Truly to Vice-President Quayle on 13 November 1991. The findings of the "Roles and Mission" statement were good news for the SSC employees who had worked so hard in the hope that  the south Mississippi facility would attain the Center of Excellence status. The plan did, however, in a distribution of programs NASA wide, call for a phasing out of two Earth- and life-science programs at the SSC, which included some core work carried out by the Science and Technology Laboratory (formerly the ERL).37
In a letter attached to the comprehensive document, Thompson specifically noted that the SSC had traditionally been viewed as a test site for large systems testing, predominately for work overseen by the MSFC. Thompson concluded that the SSC role should be expanded to "manage and execute" the test program defined by the development centers. Thompson emphatically stated, "They [SSC] can do it." Truly forwarded the report to Vice-President Quayle and said he intended to make the report a "vital part" of the Agency's continual improvement efforts.38
J.R. Thompson's report and Truly's "Administrator's Decision Memorandum," on 30 December 1991, agreeing on the SSC's role as NASA's Center of Excellence for Testing Large Propulsion Systems, were certainly major steps toward recognition for the SSC. Estess and members of his staff, however, knew there was still much to be done before they could breathe easy with the knowledge that their prize had actually been won. After all, the senior members of the SSC staff had suffered disappointments in the past while pursuing illusive goals and had accepted lesser rewards. In addition to remembering old adversities, the SSC managers were also very much aware that Thompson's report did not grant their installation the "test management" role for the SSME program, nor was the SSC awarded the coveted "lead center" status that many other NASA centers were given in various science, technology development, and exploration roles.39
As the new year of 1992 opened, the SSC staff returned to work with an even stronger resolve to continue their drive toward achieving their goals. On 31 January 1992, a draft implementation plan for the achievement of the  Center of Excellence status by the SSC was forwarded to the Headquarters by SSC Deputy Director Gerald Smith.40
Capitalizing on the apparent SSC loss of science programs, the implementation plan maximized the use of facilities, equipment, and people affected by the transition out of Earth- and life-science disciplines into a matrix organization supporting propulsion testing. The SSC management also highlighted the fact that the work of personnel in the Science and Technology Laboratory on commercial remote sensing programs had been very successful. Smith further pointed out that the SSC had very experienced civil service personnel, contractor test engineers, and test conductors already working at the facility. Smith carefully explained that the civil servants, engineers, and test conductors, who were already involved with a variety of liquid- and solid-propulsion test programs, were more than capable of carrying on the SSC's immediate responsibilities for the ASRM and ALS, as well as undertaking missions that might be assigned in the future.41
The "can do" team at the SSC did not complain as they accepted their hard-earned, newly acquired Center of Excellence status. A few of the other NASA field centers, however, objected to the SSC being named a Center of Excellence. Their reactions would have been even sharper if Thompson had suggested that the SSC be designated the "Lead Center for the Testing of Large Propulsion Systems." According to Roy Estess, "J.R. Thompson staked out the potential for us [the SSC] to be declared the Center of Excellence [in the report], and Admiral Truly made that decision."42
The Statecraft Of Shuttle Diplomacy
An opportunity to gain further recognition for its management expertise was presented to the south Mississippi facility when J.R. Thompson stepped down as Deputy Administrator to enter private business on 8 November 1991. Thompson's departure left Truly in need of a strong person to help him run the Agency until a new deputy could be recruited and approved.43
 Roy Estess was a logical choice because he had worked closely with Truly and Thompson for years and had attained a reputation among his peers for "sound judgement and fairness" in his straightforward management style. The position he was offered was called "Assistant to the Administrator." In essence, the job called for Estess to work in a number of management functions handling issues affecting the Agency, as well as serving as an "unofficial" deputy to Truly.44
Admiral Truly, a native Mississippian who had been an advocate of the SSC since accepting the challenge to help put NASA back into space in 1986, announced his resignation as NASA Administrator effective 1 April 1992. Some members of the SSC team worried that the center's new Center of Excellence status might be endangered by the new Headquarters's management. A first sign that the SSC at least had a foot in the door at NASA Headquarters came when the new Administrator, Daniel S. Goldin (1940- ), former Vice-President and General Manager of TRW Technology Group, asked Estess to stay on at NASA Headquarters to assist him during the transition period.45
When Truly announced his resignation, he told NASA employees, "Anytime leadership changes in an organization, it can be a time of rough seas. In the Navy, when you enter very tough situations and rough seas, there is a saying, "Steady as she goes!" The Admiral predicted the organization would keep "steady" and move "full speed ahead." No doubt Truly recognized that NASA had many leaders, such as Roy Estess, to help steer the NASA ship. Estess's experience as director at the ever-evolving SSC, with its many changes in direction and management style, certainly prepared him to help his Headquarters's colleagues during the Agency's transition. Outgoing Administrator Truly named Aaron Cohen, director of the Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, Texas, to serve as Acting Deputy Administrator to help in the day-to-day operations of the Agency and to assist during the transition period.46
 Goldin took the reins of NASA on 1 April 1992 and quickly introduced a number of reforms that resulted in a revitalization of the Space Agency. His first initiative was to bring NASA's budget process under control. Goldin created a series of management teams in order to find ways to operate programs "faster, better, and cheaper," without compromising safety. He named Estess to chair a "no holds barred" institutional study of the Agency's roles and missions.47
As Goldin's introspective look into NASA's total management practices continued, he assigned Estess to use the roles and missions findings in a team assessment of Space Station Freedom, a program that had been the subject of much debate by politicians, industry leaders, and internal NASA officials. During their evaluation, Estess and his team members used data from the roles and missions analysis to help develop management improvements, new approaches in hardware definition, and cost savings in the troubled Space Station program.48
One of their decisions, to move Level II management from Reston, Virginia, to the JSC resulted in page-one political reverberations. In the final analysis, the studies led by Estess contributed to the decisions by Administrator Goldin leading to the salvation of the Space Station Freedom program. In addition, Estess's studies resulted in the Goldin administration's gaining favor from a Congress that was obviously pleased with the new management approaches in the Space Station program and, especially in the cost savings effected in the controversial program.49
While still at NASA Headquarters, Estess accompanied the new Administrator on his first field visit to the SSC on 14 April 1992. Goldin was given a tour, which included one of the SSME test stands and the construction site for the ALS's CTF. Following the tour, Goldin commented, "The attitudes are right among the Stennis people. You're a very close, tight team. You have a vision about where you want to go, and you understand Total Quality Management."50
 At a gathering of all NASA team members, Goldin enjoyed mixing and talking informally with the SSC employees, especially the 20 young engineers and new hires obtained to help with the ALS and ASRM programs. After a few minutes of informal chatting, the more uninhibited members of the team began sharing their ideas with Administrator Goldin, giving the new Administrator opportunity to continue an unusual, give-and-take exchange. Before departing, Goldin congratulated the SSC on the newly received designation as a "Center of Excellence" for testing the nation's large propulsion systems, but he challenged the positive group to stretch to be the "best in the world' at testing large propulsion systems. There was no doubt that Goldin was impressed and heartened by the energy and morale of the "can do" SSC team.51
Although Estess's contributions at the Headquarters primarily involved assisting Truly and then Goldin in their day-to-day management of the entire Agency, the SSC director met and worked with many top NASA executives. Estess dealt on a daily basis with associate administrators, field center directors, aerospace managers from across the country, and members of the Congress and staff assistants.52
Acting Deputy Administrator Aaron Cohen said Estess never lobbied for his own Mississippi installation as he went about his Headquarters's assignments. Cohen added, however, that Estess's noted forthright approach to management and his fair and even-handed analyses of problems contributed greatly to the credibility of the man from Mississippi. Cohen explained that Estess's positive reputation was seen by his Headquarters's colleagues, in part, as a reflection on and response to the SSC culture. This view of Estess, according to Cohen, contributed to the overall appreciation by many NASA officials of the entire SSC team and their ability to get the job done. Furthermore, Cohen observed, NASA officials learned that when "Roy Estess told you something, you knew he was speaking for the good of the Agency and not his own center's parochial interests."53
Estess officially terminated his Washington, D.C., assignment on 8 May 1992. He did, however, continue his "shuttle diplomacy" by making numerous trips back to Headquarters to assist Administrator Goldin in instituting new  policies. Estess's sporadic work at the Headquarters continued to bring him in contact with many senior NASA and aerospace managers, such as well-known JSC executive Mark Craig.54
Big Boosters For The Future: The Story Of ASRM And ALS
The early half of the 1990s did, indeed, bring great success to the SSC in its preparation to test the proposed engines and components for two of the nation's future rocket boosters. The changing priorities and downsizing of the federal government during the period, however, also held some jarring disappointments for the SSC. The ASRM project was canceled by President Bush when he released his fiscal year 1993 budget in January 1992. The President's budget was supported by Admiral Truly, who stated the ASRM's cancellation was due to an "affordability issue." After much debate, and despite efforts by Mississippi's congressional delegation, the ASRM was finally terminated by the Congress in October 1993. Likewise, changing programmatic priorities and shrinking budgets of the military and NASA prompted abandonment of the joint Air Force-NASA National Launch System (NLS) program that included the CTF at the SSC.55
ASRM: In Dubious Battle
NASA had pushed for a more powerful and safer "advanced" solid rocket motor following the Challenger disaster. NASA also wanted to obtain a noncontractor site, where the Agency could provide for the future manufacturing of solid rocket motors. With practically unlimited backing from the Bush Administration and the Congress, the ASRM project moved along with added popular grass-roots support through its planning and facility development stages.56
 Largely through the advocacy of U.S. Representative Jamie Whitten, chairman of the powerful and influential House Appropriations Committee, the Yellow Creek site near Iuka, Mississippi, was chosen as the ASRM manufacturing site in July 1988. The Iuka location, on Tennessee Valley Authority property, was in close proximity to the MSFC at Huntsville, Alabama. At the same time, the SSC was selected as the site for static firing and certifying the new solid rocket motors.57
It is important to note that at the time the SSC was selected as only the ASRM testing facility, most employees at the SSC were not happy with the decision. Jerry Hlass, SSC director; Deputy Director Roy Estess; and the SSC NASA team had hoped the SSC would be selected for both the manufacturing and testing of the ASRM. Hlass said that he did not want his installation to have the potential community relations problems that could come from testing solid propellants without the benefits to be gained from an estimated 1,400 "manufacturing process" jobs. Unfortunately, Hlass did not get his "wish." The SSC ASRM testing facility would employ about 200 engineers and technicians with another 400 people employed at the nearby Michoud plant and in Slidell. At first, Hlass and his staff expressed disappointment that the SSC was not selected for the manufacturing and testing of the ASRM. Nevertheless, the SSC accepted the test role.58
Long before the ASRM project could get off the ground, a small but highly effective group of environmentalists mustered a prolonged protest against the ASRM testing. The ASRM opposition group, called "Citizens for a Healthy Environment," claimed exhaust emissions generated by an ASRM static firing would contain harmful toxic chemicals that would fall on the area surrounding the SSC. Before the issue was settled, the public exchange between NASA, the "Citizens for a Healthy Environment," and two Mississippi State University researchers was extensively aired by local news media and widely discussed in the surrounding communities.59
 Members of the SSC staff, who had enjoyed excellent community support since the facility's earliest days, were stunned by the apparent opposition to the ASRM test project. Led by Estess, a number of senior staff members, NASA and contractor personnel, and supportive community leaders launched a proactive campaign to better inform the people in the communities about the ASRM firings to assure them that the SSC would not undertake a program that might harm the environment. Environmental problems were not a consideration during the Saturn V testing of the 1960s and 1970s, nor during the many years of SSME testing. Only the Saturn V first-stage booster-stage (S-IC) propellant had contained a product, RP-1 kerosene, that could be considered the least bit harmful; but, ultimately, the public was not really concerned about their safety.60
By 1989, although a majority of the citizens in the surrounding communities believed in the credibility of the SSC leaders and personnel, SSC management felt it necessary to solicit positive support from their community friends in the wake of the controversy. After all, SSC personnel had been entrusted to conduct testing for a national rocket development program. The south Mississippi team felt a strong obligation to see the ASRM project through to a successful conclusion, following the determination that the test program was safe to humans and the environment.61
Over a three-month period, beginning in the summer of 1989, SSC director Roy Estess, Dr. Rebecca "Becky" McDonald, Ken Human, A.J. "Jack" Rogers, Jr., Dr. William "Bill" Huseonica, and Ms. Myron Webb, along with other SSC staff members, carried the SSC environmental message to the local communities. At public hearings conducted by the State Pollution Control Board and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the SSC staff personnel answered numerous questions posed by the media and the general public.62
 At every juncture during the environmental debate, SSC officials carefully explained their commitment to protect the communities in which they lived. The provisions in the environmental impact statements and the extensive measures the SSC was undertaking to comply with all of the stringent state and federal environmental laws and regulations were described. The SSC team also explained the comprehensive monitoring program that would be put into place to ensure the safety of people in the local communities, as well as the south Mississippi and nearby Louisiana environments, during the two-minute ASRM static firings. NASA Headquarters's managers stated that there would only be two tests in 1994, three in 1995, two in 1996, and two tests per year after 1996. Two court suits were brought against executives from NASA and other federal agencies associated with the ASRM program. Both suits, however, were dismissed by the courts, one in 1992 "without prejudice for failure to state a claim," and the other in 1994 for "mootness," because the matter came before the court after the ASRM program was terminated.63
The SSC Chief Counsel Ken Human believed there was a turning point in the public opinion battle surrounding the testing of the ASRM. Public opinion began to alter after he and the SSC's Public Affairs Officer Myron Webb met with Susan Santos, research program director for the Center for Risk Communications at Columbia University, New York. The purpose of the meeting was to arrange for the specialist to conduct a risk management seminar at the SSC in April 1990. Santos helped the SSC program managers to not only better understand the aspects of managing programs that had potential for upsetting environmental advocates, but also to understand the importance of good communications with the public.64
While the ASRM ruckus was still going on, budget storms continued in Washington, with Senator Trent Lott and his Mississippi colleagues, Senator Thad Cochran and Representative Jamie Whitten, fighting to keep the ASRM program alive. During the April 1991 debates, Lott said, "I am satisfied that the principles of ASRM are correct. We have to go on to the next generation of rocket motors."65
 Lott, however, also offered an ominous observation about the ASRM's future when he said, "If they underfunded the program early, I am afraid there will be problems." At the same time, SSC Director Estess said that he was pleased with the overall budget plans for 1992-1993, but that he was also worried about the program's future. "We can stay alive," Estess said, "but it's tight." The ASRM struggled through the 1991 budget debates and finally, in September 1992, the Congress appropriated $360 million for the fiscal year 1993 funding.66
While the budget furor raged in Washington, the SSC proved that the facility could conduct the planned ASRM testing without harm to people and the environment. Mississippi's Department of Environmental Quality and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers granted the SSC the necessary permits to proceed. With these permits in hand and the court suits dismissed, the SSC was cleared to begin construction of the facilities and prepare to test the ASRM at the installation. With land clearing and grubbing already accomplished, a $9.7 million contract was awarded to Dunn Construction Company, Inc., on 11 October 1992. Under NASA supervision, actual work began on 3 November 1992 on the ASRM test stand, to be located east of the B-2 test stand. A relieved Lon Miller, ASRM program manager, deemed the initial start of construction "a major step" in the test program at the SSC.67
Morale was high at the SSC as construction began on the $50 million ASRM project, and with good reason. After all, the facility was preparing to test another major rocket system of the Space Shuttle. Even when the budget battles turned sour in Washington, D.C., the enthusiasm of the SSC team did not diminish. Myron Webb, Public Affairs Officer, told the press in June 1993, "We are disappointed, but not too surprised. We've got to continue construction until [the] Congress makes a final decision." The decision, directing NASA to terminate the ASRM program and construction of the test facilities at the SSC, came in October 1993 when the project was about 80 percent complete.68
Although, during his bid for the Presidency, William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton (1946- ) said he supported ASRM, he also ran into fiscal problems  with the Congress in the spring of 1993. President Clinton told Lott and Whitten that he would support $300 million for the ASRM program for fiscal year 1994. That figure, however, was still far below the $380 million that ASRM contractors said was needed to keep the project on track. Additionally, at least four bills were filed in the Congress to kill the project.69
Indeed, the Clinton 1994 fiscal year budget contained $305 million for "construction, research, and development" of the ASRM. Unfortunately, the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee rebuffed the Clinton budget and instead voted to terminate the ASRM project. The Committee then voted to allocate $150 million to phase-down and terminate the project. The savings from the measure were earmarked to be applied to "deficit reduction."70
Estess and his staff, needless to say, were extremely disappointed when they received the news of the termination of the project. A large number of personnel at the SSC had worked to obtain the environmental permits and were looking forward to the new program. Scientists at the SSC were prepared to play a major role in the ASRM testing by using computer-modeling techniques to do basic research for future environmental monitoring. The SSC scientists had made plans to work with state researchers to perform landmark environmental monitoring of the ASRM tests. No doubt this research would have had national application for other environmental programs.71
The demise of the ASRM program was a disappointment for the SSC. There were, however, positive results that came from the project. About 20 new NASA civil service engineers and an additional 15 administrative personnel were justified and recruited for the ASRM and ALS programs. Many of these employees, hired straight out of colleges and universities, gave the SSC the opportunity to strengthen its technical capabilities with this influx of young, engineers. The ASRM and ALS projects also gave the SSC the leverage to win its personnel argument for the addition of these bright, talented engineers. The ASRM program allowed the SSC the opportunity to experience "real-life" lessons in environmental risk management. In fact, by the time the  various permits were finally issued for the project, SSC personnel were considered the leading experts in NASA on handling environmental matters. More importantly, the SSC came out of the ASRM project with an even more experienced propulsion management team, keenly aware of changing national priorities and the fragility of the fickle fortunes of political fate. But, more importantly, the SSC team emerged from the ASRM experience with added resolve and a renewed spirit to continue toward future goals.72
NLS-CTF: Legacy Of The Heavy Lifters
During the early 1990s, the ASRM project had a "sister" propulsion initiative that also moved the SSC ahead in its drive to become recognized as the nation's leading rocket test center. The ALS program, later called the NLS, found its way to the SSC when the Department of Defense (DoD) learned of the SSC's capabilities through NASA-SSC engineers and members of Senator Stennis's office. In 1987, the Air Force became interested in locating rocket engine component technology research facilities in Mississippi. The DoD contended that such facilities were needed to support the development of the heavy-lift launch vehicles needed to perform military space missions requiring payloads too big and too numerous for the NASA-operated Space Shuttle.73
Even before the extensive redesign of the shuttle after the Challenger disaster, the all-purpose craft only had a maximum payload capability of about 65,000 pounds. This payload capacity was reduced, to about 50,000 pounds with new safety features and other modifications. The DoD wanted future vehicles that could transport 150,000 to 200,000 pounds into Earth's orbit. At the time, NASA also wanted to start development of a "family" of less expensive launch vehicles for use in future civilian programs. In order to minimize the expense of the development of new launch systems, the DoD and NASA entered into an agreement to jointly develop a new generation of launch vehicles.74
 On 4 January 1988, President Ronald Reagan approved and forwarded to Senator Stennis a joint NASA-DoD report on the Advanced Launch System. The Presidential report covered a wide range of topics, among them the use of facilities which identified the National Space Technology Laboratories (NSTL - later renamed the John C. Stennis Space Center) as an existing government site that was available for ALS testing. Senator Stennis then received a document of "clarification" on 9 March 1988, from Air Force Secretary Edward C. Aldridge recognizing the experience and capabilities at the south Mississippi installation. The clarifying statement reported that the DoD acknowledged the broad, national space capabilities developed by NASA during the previous three decades. The document further stated that "all" liquid engine propulsion testing in the ALS program would be accomplished at the Mississippi facility.75
On 11 March 1988, Stennis was pleased to announce that the agreement between the Air Force and NASA would place the Mississippi installation in an "excellent position to perform the crucial testing on the ALS engines for the military, as well as for NASA." Ultimate cost of the facilities for the testing at the NSTL was estimated to be $300 million. Senator Stennis also pointed out that the utilization of the NSTL would "prevent costly duplication" of rocket test facilities at military sites elsewhere, when they already existed at the NSTL.76
In July 1988, while personnel were preparing for the 3 August renaming and dedication ceremony of the NSTL, funds were released for the joint NASA-Air Force ALS technology program. The action allowed the south Mississippi facility to begin work on construction of the testing facility. Robert Bruce, chief of the onsite Advanced Planning Division, stated that the planned CTF would be a unique, world-class test facility. Bruce pointed out that the only comparable operation was located in France. Gerald Pitalo, the SSC's interface in 1988 with the ALS joint program office in El Segundo, California, said, "Our challenge is to get the job done [build the CTF], not only on schedule, but within the [allotted] dollar amount." As construction proceeded on the structures, about 100 workers were  employed. The facility was located on 20 acres of choice SSC fee-area real estate near the extreme southern portion of the access canal leading to the A-1 test stand.77
Once again, changing priorities in Washington, D.C., in national aim and fiscal downsizing of government, produced waves of misfortune that affected the SSC. As the Cold War continued to wind down, aerospace industry woes proliferated when the nation and the Congress turned their backs on the Reagan era "Star Wars" Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) for missile defense. As the SDI program faltered, the joint Air Force-NASA launch vehicle cooperative suffered severe growing pains. The SSC ALS program manager, Robert Bruce, said the termination of SDI was a factor, but funds had already begun to trickle down, ever so slowly. "For reasons unknown" to him and others involved in the ALS program, NASA continued to underfund its part of the "dollar-for-dollar" agreement with the Air Force.78
NASA's failure to match the Air Force ALS funding, even from the early years of the program, was baffling. Perhaps the answer to this mystery can be found in the fact that at the same time early preparations were under way for the ALS, most NASA Headquarters planners were supporting President Bush's Space Exploration Initiative (SEI) that called for a mixed launch vehicle fleet. The Bush doctrine calling for a more flexible transportation system was detailed in the National Space Council's report on 4 January 1991. The effects, of course, impacted the development for the CTF at the SSC. Construction contracts were slowed down as NASA tried to continue the $78 million project with incremental funding from the ALS program. Unfortunately, the SSC never received full funding for the project during the first half of the 1990s.79
 It was obvious that the unfinished facility had a use as a rocket component training site for its new engineers. In fact, the first use of the CTF came in 1993, when SSC engineers successfully conducted a series of tests, for the American Rocket Company of Ventura, California, that specialized in commercialization of low-cost hybrid rocket propulsion. The 10 developmental tests signaled the first firing of such a motor and the first use of the SSC's CTF. NASA's Bill Kahle, hybrid rocket motor project manager, noted that the success of the tests were not only due to the capabilities of the CTF, but also because of the expertise of the engineers and technicians conducting these milestone tests. These tests also marked a new way of doing business with private industry.80
In addition to the facility's early utilization, the CTF also was an extraordinarily important asset for the SSC during the first part of the 1990s, as a centerpiece of the SSC's quest to become a "Center of Excellence for Propulsion Testing." Boyce Mix, chief of the Propulsion Test and Engineering Directorate, stated that the SSC would have never been considered for the designation of Center of Excellence status without the CTF. Robert Bruce, SSC chief of Advanced Program Development, agreed with Mix that the CTF was a critical component in NASA's decision to consider the SSC for its future propulsion management plans. Thus, the world-class CTF facility never quite reached its intended utilization by mid-1996, but the facility is destined to play a major role in the long-range future of the SSC.81
The HHFF: Aboard The Orient Express
When President Ronald Reagan unveiled his NASP program in January 1984, few future planners in the nation pictured that at least part of the technology development of the futuristic airplane would wind up at the SSC. Dubbed the "Orient Express," due to its potential to travel at unbelievable speeds from the United States to China, the sleek aerospace vehicle was envisioned to take off horizontally like an airplane, fly into Earth's orbit at speeds  up to Mach 25, and return and land at a destination on the far side of the globe in a matter of minutes. The NASP would, of course, have definite military and civilian utility.82
The project-hungry engineers at the SSC immediately sought program managers for the joint Air Force-NASA program. The SSC team offered to provide extensive laboratory and test facilities, 30 years of rocket-testing expertise, and the over 125,000-acre acoustic-buffer zone for the NASP program. Senator Stennis's office also took a keen interest in helping secure appropriate test missions within the NASP program for the south Mississippi facility. In May 1992, the SSC was selected by the joint Air Force-NASA program office to initially test new materials for the NASP that could withstand the tremendous changes in temperature that the vehicle would encounter as it performed its mission. Technical program directors decided that a High Heat Flux Facility (HHFF) would be needed at the SSC to accomplish the specialized testing of exotic materials. Upon the selection of the SSC for the NASP testing, Deputy Director Gerald Smith accurately called the decision "a major accomplishment in the expansion of the SSC propulsion test goal."83
After the planning and design work was accomplished, another test program was born when Air Force and NASA officials gathered on 16 September 1992 to break ground for the HHFF, located a short distance northwest of the CTF. Patrick "Pat" Scheuermann, acting manager of the NASP Project Office at the SSC, and Bill Taylor, associate director of the SSC, represented NASA at the NASP kickoff ceremony. Taylor, in a statement to the press regarding the $1.9 million, commented, "This project is the lynch-pin for putting in a test facility capability at the Stennis Space Center to support other propulsion programs around the nation."84
Although constructed to support materials development for the NASP, the facility evolved into a versatile test complex available for developmental projects involving hot gas, cryogenic fluids, gas impingement, inert gases, industrial gases, specialized (fluorine) gases, hydraulics, and deionized and industrial water. By the summer of 1994, the SSC engineers put a subscale, graphite-epoxy, liquid hydrogen fuel tank designed for the NASP through  thermal structural tests. In the final analysis, the HHFF was another test facility project successfully designed and built by the SSC engineers that has and will add versatility to the test capabilities of the SSC and gave the Center of Excellence concept even more meaning and depth.85
RLV, EELV: Testing The Possibilities
As the SSC began to diversify its propulsion expertise in 1995 with knowledge gained from the SSME, CTF, and HHFF test programs, its managers used their new credibility to bring in more test activities of national significance to the SSC. With NASA and the nation's aerospace industry looking for more economical ways to achieve routine access to space and to eventually replace the aging Space Shuttle, the SSC offered its experience and unique facilities to attract test programs for the Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) and the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV). Technology from these developmental programs was expected to produce a "mixed fleet" for the nation's "highway to space."86
To accommodate the new test programs, the SSC established an RLV and EELV Project Office in May 1995. Lon Miller, director of the SSC Project and Technology Directorate, announced that Pat Scheuermann would head up the new office. In making the announcement, Miller said, "This program is of national significance and of critical impact to [the] SSC." Miller also stated he anticipated that all RLV testing would be performed at the SSC, no matter which aerospace firms were selected to develop the systems. As it turned out, a proposal by Lockheed-Martin was accepted.87
The RLV technology program stemmed from a 1993 NASA study, performed at the request of the Congress, that addressed the nation's future space transportation needs. The "Access to Space" study concluded that the most beneficial option would be to develop and deploy a fully reusable, pure  rocket launch system incorporating advanced technologies. The RLV Technology Program called for a partnership between NASA and industry for world leadership in low-cost space vehicles. The objective of the program was to develop and demonstrate new technologies for the next generation of reusable space transportation systems that could radically reduce the spiralling costs of space access. In fact, engineers estimated that an RLV vehicle could take payloads into space at the cost of only $100 per pound, as compared to the Space Shuttle cost of about $1,000 per pound. The program outlined a combination of ground and flight demonstrations utilizing the X-33 experimental "flying testbeds." The X-33, a Lockheed-Martin wedge-shaped vehicle, was selected by NASA on 2 July 1996 as the RLV that would ultimately replace the Space Shuttle. When the vehicle is fully verified for flight, the X-33 will be turned into commercial or DoD aircraft for full-scale development.88
In support of the RLV testing, the SSC conducted its first static firing of a Technology Testbed (TTB) SSME-class engine on the A-2 test stand in April 1996. The first firing of the TTB was considered a milestone by Lon Miller in the SSC's role as the Agency's propulsion center and in its working relationship with the MSFC. The test proved that the two centers could work together on a propulsion program, even though they were located some 400 miles apart. In addition, the test demonstrated that the engine did not have to be physically attached to a test stand at the MSFC in order for the engineers in Huntsville to acquire their needed data.89
With the SSC scheduled for all development test programs associated with the X-33, activity at the installation was planned to continue through the end of 1999. The first series of tests on the RLV technology engine were completed in May 1996. Test stands phased-out of the ongoing SSME test program at the SSC were converted for use in the RLV testing program. By using the existing SSME test stands, the RLV program could be accomplished at the lowest possible cost. An additional bonus for the SSC was realized, since program requirements for the X-33 would bring testing to other facilities at the SSC, including the CTF and HHFF.90
 With NASA moving ahead with plans to develop a vehicle with engines tested at the SSC, (in July 1996) the DoD initiated a $2 billion program designed to focus on existing technology to develop a new family of EELVs. The EELV program would study foreign and domestic technologies, with an eye toward replacing current medium and heavy vehicles in the country's launch vehicle fleet. The objective of the EELV program was to reduce the nation's cost of DOD space launches. The SSC was selected to perform engine and system testing for one of the four companies vying for the EELV program beginning in 1996. Because of the large test infrastructure already in place at the SSC, the program would not have to invest in construction of new facilities.91
DTF: A School For Pioneers
The SSC engineers led by Marvin L. "Marv" Carpenter, deputy director of the SSC Propulsion Test Operations Office, constructed a "Diagnostic Testbed Facility" (DTF) in 1987 that used a small, 1,200-pound-thrust rocket engine salvaged from a surplus yard at the MSFC. The purpose of the facility was to learn how to detect potential problems in the SSMEs by analyzing spectral emissions in the engine exhaust plumes during a static firing. The first firings of the salvaged rocket engine at the DTF were conducted in April 1988 and continued with hundreds of successful firings at the facility, which expanded their research objectives.92
After the DTF became operational, Carpenter soon discovered another use for the homemade test facility. Carpenter and other senior SSC engineers knew that in modern rocketry procedures, there was little room left for engineers to get "hands-on" experience in engine testing. For years, NASA engineers monitored tests, while contractor engineers and technicians "pushed the buttons" and performed the actual testing.93
By encouraging the younger engineers to get involved by planning and conducting the tests themselves, the experience gave them a pioneering spirit...
...that was hard to find elsewhere in NASA. Since these engineers and their supporting technicians were destined to be the test managers of the future, the DTF turned out to have the added utility of becoming a "finishing school" for propulsion engineers. With the influx of new engineers in 1991, the training program became even more important and took on a "higher visibility" and more formal plans and procedures were adopted. Dr. Don Chenevert became program manager of the DTF. The facility has also been used by other NASA research centers, private aerospace firms, and universities to do plume-research studies.94
In 1991, Pat Mooney, chief of the Test Operations Division, wrote a memorandum to J. Stephens "Steve" Dick, chief of the Test Support Division, soliciting assistance for the low-funded DTF. The memorandum read, "In the past 3 and 1/2 years, the DTF has had to rely solely on parts and components that had been scrounged from many different areas of the site... . Any efforts of [SSME] test support division's part to include these components in planning related to SSME spares or even monies left over would be a great help to the DTF." The Mooney memorandum illustrates the informal associations enjoyed by members of the SSC team, dating back to the mid-1960s when many of the engineers were working together during the Saturn V testing era.95
With the extensive experience gained during the first part of the 1990s with the many varied test projects, the foundation was laid for the SSC to finally be formally recognized as the nation's Center of Excellence for Propulsion Testing. Indeed, during NASA Administrator Daniel Goldin's first visit to the installation, he challenged the SSC to be the "best test center in the world."96
Formal recognition as NASA's Center of Excellence for rocket propulsion testing eluded the SSC until 1996. Agency planning documents, vision statements, and discussions publicly pronounced the honor for the SSC, but Estess and his team wanted to see an official proclamation, with programs and appropriate funding to support the designation. After all, the SSC felt it obtained the Center of Excellence honor the hard way, "they had earned it."97
 In The Market Place
NASA's Commercial Remote Sensing Program (CRSP) at the SSC provided a new approach to the application of remote sensing, an "old" space technology largely developed in the civilian sector by the Earth Resources Laboratory (ERL) in the 1970s. The military had used remote sensing techniques for years, but kept the new science "behind closed doors."98
When the ERL was established in 1970, researchers began studying ways to apply the new information gained from airborne and space platforms, such as satellites and spacecraft. Through a combined use of ground truth, geographical information systems, and a unique and innovative computer program called Earth Resources Laboratory Applications Software (ELAS), the ERL scientists were able to input, study, and identify hundreds of data points of a particular location on Earth.99
The ERL scientists assisted a broad spectrum of users in finding practical applications for the remotely sensed data. The data were used by farmers, geologists, city and state planners, environmental monitors, fishermen, firefighters, foresters, law enforcement officers, and road builders. As was discussed earlier, even archaeologists were able to greatly advance their explorations by using remote sensing information.100
The Regional Applications Program (RAP), headed by Roy Estess during the latter part of the 1970s, was a landmark program that enabled remote sensing data to assist the 17 Sun Belt states in their planning and decision-making processes. ERL personnel became extremely "customer-oriented" as they marketed and then trained users from Mississippi and Louisiana in the use of the remote sensing data.101
One of the young scientists working on RAP's outreach venture to the Sun Belt states was David P. Brannon, an Alabama native recruited by Estess from  the Navy. Brannon recalled the demise of practically all federal "applications" programs in 1981, when the Administration sought to put a greater emphasis on commercially focused programs and "get the government out of private business." Although ERL's applications endeavors actually assisted private enterprise entities, the very word "applications" was enough for budget directors to "zero out" the RAP and other similar projects in the government.102
This setback caused Brannon and others to take stock of their applications work and see where they might have made mistakes, with an eye toward improving their approach. According to Brannon, Roy Estess told the RAP personnel to keep up their work in spite of increasing budgetary constraints and "we'll live to fight another day." Brannon also recalled some earlier advice from Wayne Mooneyhan, ERL director, to continue their civil service "hands-on" management approach and maintain their technical expertise, because the changing times would bring new programs in the future "if we are ready." The support of SSC Director Jerry Hlass during the 1980s was also crucial to survival of the remote sensing programs and their ultimate success.103
As the ERL remote sensing team appraised their future moves, the SSC scientists also knew that they would have to make "semantic" changes in their programs in order to obtain funding. For instance, the word commercial was "in," and the word applications was most definitely "out." During the ERL's Regional Program days, Brannon and his colleagues had a lot of "answers" with their technology, and they went about searching for problems to match their answers. Brannon has recalled that he and his colleagues attempted to transfer technology that the general population was unprepared to receive. In developing the CRSP, Brannon and his fellow scientists adopted a new approach and began asking the customers what their "needs" were and then tried to match those needs with the appropriate technology development program.104
Brannon remembered an encounter he had years ago during his travels with the RAP. While working with the various states, Brannon was sent to North Carolina to convince the state's many organizational departments that  they should adopt remote sensing techniques to help them better manage their resources. The young 24-year-old scientist, who had not totally developed his skills in salesmanship, used scores of photo transparencies to illustrate the uses of remote sensing in such areas as forestry and land-use planning. After a long and complex presentation, one of the North Carolina administrators, in a deep southern drawl, asked, "Son that's all well and good, but can you just tell us where the trees are?" Brannon said he had touched briefly on the subject of trees, but he knew that he did not connect with the gentleman's perceived needs. "I never forgot that lesson," Brannon mused knowingly, "to always understand just what the client needs."105
With many other such experiences under their belts, Brannon and his associates were pleased when the SSC was named NASA's Lead Center for "Commercial Remote Sensing" in May 1988, a designation later recognized by Administrator Goldin. At that time, the Agency was implementing programs suggested by the Administration and the Congress. NASA Headquarters recognized that members of the ERL had developed excellent customer relations skills. The Lab personnel had become quite adept in "customer relations," an ability that government scientists and researchers rarely possessed.106
In 1984, the federal government took steps that had far-reaching effects for the commercial programs at the SSC, and he encouraged NASA Headquarters's management to consider the SSC's reputation in commercial remote sensing. There was an amendment to the National Space Act of 1958 to accommodate the "Commercial Uses of Space." Also, the Congress decided to turn the operational management of the Landsat satellite's products over to private enterprise. Both of these legislative actions favored the customer-oriented experience of the scientists at the SSC.107
As their fortunes changed, the innovative Brannon; his capable deputy, Charles "Chuck" Hill; and other associates put another remote sensing program in place at the SSC in 1987 that better fit the growing trend toward entrepreneurship beginning to blossom in the business community. This time, the remote sensing team turned the program around and formed investment  partnerships with companies that presented a good proposal outlining their "need" for remote sensing products and services.108
Brannon and his people then matched this need for remote sensing products and services with newly developing technology. Called the Earth Observations Commercial Applications Program (EOCAP), the "results-driven" partnerships were open primarily to U.S. commercial firms. The EOCAP also had categories for educational institutions, nonprofit organizations, and other government agencies. By July 1996, the EOCAP had worked with over 400 entities, including 25 companies marketing cutting-edge products around the country. The commercial "marketeers" and scientists at the SSC had also instituted a "Visiting Investigator Program" (VIP) that proved to be successful. In VIP, the CRSP personnel invite private businesses to come to the SSC and study how they can use remote sensing in their companies. The program, expanded in 1996, also focuses on colleges and universities interested in using the remote sensing technology developed in the user-friendly laboratories at the SSC.109
Reinventing Government: A Return To Synergy
Since the founding of the multiagency complex at the SSC in 1970, a number of scientists have worked together, helping each other find answers to their shared technical problems. It is not uncommon to see a NASA remote sensing specialist working hand-in-hand with a U.S. Park Service researcher on a project to inventory the natural resources of a particular national park. In the Skylab Gamefish project, NASA scientists and National Marine Fisheries personnel gathered "ground truth" from the Gulf of Mexico, to correlate with the photographs from Skylab, in an effort to determine better methods to track and catch fish. The SSC scientists also assisted U.S. Geological Survey scientists studying new ways to advance oil exploration by using satellite remote sensing. There were many other joint projects successfully undertaken through the years, sometimes with several agencies participating in a particular scientific endeavor.110
 When Vice-President Al Gore proposed that the federal government find ways to "reinvent government," NASA/SSC personnel pointed with pride to a slogan, "The Stennis Space Center has been reinventing government for 25 years," they had "coined" for a presentation. During the early years of Jackson Balch's efforts to bring several federal and state agencies together to study space technology, oceanography, and the environment, he said the multiagency concept produced a situation where scientists could "make 2 plus 2 equal 5." Balch's idea of a scientific utopia would have ideally had several agencies at the installation working on their own projects, but also sharing information that would enhance each other's results.111
One of the reasons for the creation of NASA's Application Engineering (AE) office in the 1970s was to put into place a NASA element that had the expertise and charter to relate with the resident agencies. After Balch, Jerry Hlass recognized the importance of the multiagency concept and instituted policies that he called "tenant satisfaction," but the multiagency complex had never reached its "ultimate" potential. Similarly, Roy Estess provided a constant source of support for the various agencies through the many personal and professional associations he enjoyed during earlier years. When Estess was named the SSC director, many heads of the resident agencies and their key technical managers found an open ear and a friend in the director's office. Estess had been the manager of the AE office that worked across the board with the resident agencies. He was also manager of the RAP, which dealt with the numerous departments of 17 state governments, and he helped champion the development of the Mississippi Technology Transfer Center. Estess had his "heart" in the resident agency concept, and as the SSC director he adamantly declared his support of the concept he helped Jackson Balch create and build during the 1970s.112
Estess underscored his feelings about the value of the multiagency concept when he placed several highly respected scientists in an SSC organization that could continue the proven cultural tradition of cooperation between the federal and state entities at the facility. Indeed, Estess wanted to see the "crossroads of science" concept at the installation finally live up to its original expectations.113
 Estess named oceanographer Dr. Richard L. "Rick" Miller as chief of the Earth Systems Science Office, encouraging the office to share its extensive expertise with the several resident agencies located at the SSC. In addition to his own scientific background, Miller's organization included some of NASA's most respected scientists in their areas of investigation. For instance, Dr. Tom Sever, NASA's only archaeologist, had gained international recognition for the application of remote sensing to explore ancient civilizations. Sever's work with National Geographic, the University of Colorado, and many other prestigious organizations brought attention to the uses of space technology and credit to the Agency for its pioneering work in a very visible and fascinating science. Others working in the SSC science office included Dr. William "Bill" Cibula, a senior scientist from the ERL organization, and Dr. Gregory "Greg" Carter, a well-published researcher. Cibula and Carter were recognized with Space Act Awards in 1994 for their use of remote sensing data to study the effects of stress on vegetation.114
The multiagency complex gave the SSC scientists an added credibility when they were engaged in discussions with other researchers. "When I go to NASA Headquarters to discuss oceanography," Miller pointed out, "I not only bring our SSC experience to the table, I also bring the entire expertise of the world-renowned Naval Oceanographic Program located at [the] SSC along, because my colleagues in the Agency now know of our association."115
Rear Admiral Paul G. Gaffney, II, Commander, Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command, went a step further in asserting his beliefs in the multiagency concept. Gaffney, who began his association with the installation in 1975 as an executive assistant and aide to the Oceanographer of the Navy, said, "I want to collaborate with people in the other agencies here on a daily basis, where we can learn from them, and they can learn from us, and we can all get better."116
 For instance, Gaffney pointed out, "I would like to see oceanographers working on NASA's Mission to Planet Earth down here." Gaffney championed his concept of interagency cooperation in discussions with the heads of other agencies at the SSC and during many discussions with Roy Estess. Gaffney also carried his message of sharing and growth to community leaders and others interested in the Mississippi installation's future. He had not only been an active participant in activation at the SSC, he also took keen interest in Gulf Coast community affairs as a resident of nearby Diamondhead.117
In addition to advancing the SSC science programs through the multiagency sharing concept, Miller believed the Science group should pursue a focus on "coastal research," an area that the ERL was originally chartered to develop when the Lab was first established at the site in 1970. Miller stated that the SSC's location near the mouth of the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico qualified the facility for an emphasis on coastal research because of its strategic physical location alone. He also pointed out that the SSC scientists had gained a special experience in coastal zone research because of their 25-year involvement in studies of the coastline. These remote sensing coastal studies involved work with federal and state agencies, oil companies, and even private entities such as "Ducks Unlimited."118
Miller noted that the majority of people in the county lived within 50 miles of the nation's coastlines, indicating even more reason for an emphasis on coastal research. A good example of the SSC's involvement in coastal research and multiagency sharing came when scientist Dr. Ramona Pellietier Travis, NASA's Gulf of Mexico Program manager at the SSC, participated in a planning effort with the SSC intragovernmental Gulf of Mexico Program to assess damage caused by Hurricane Opal, which struck the Florida Panhandle on 4 October 1995.119
The Gulf of Mexico Program, headquartered at the SSC, was organized to develop a comprehensive management plan for future protection of the Gulf environment. The program is a partnership among Gulf states and public and private agencies designed to prevent duplication, improve coordination,  and provide a comprehensive network for sharing Gulf of Mexico environmental information data. Dr. Travis noted after a coordinated fly-over by a NASA aircraft of the hurricane-ravaged area, "One thing NASA brings to the table as a partner is its remote sensing technology. This [fly-over] was an excellent opportunity not only for NASA to demonstrate its capabilities, but also to exhibit the importance of the Gulf of Mexico Program partnerships." The ER-2 NASA airplane, using sophisticated airborne sensors, was able to acquire essential data in less than 48 hours after the hurricane made landfall. In May 1996, Travis was also looking into the prospect of providing resource information and data for a Gulf of Mexico study aimed at increasing shellfish along the Gulf Coast from Texas to Florida.120
With leaders such as Admiral Gaffney and Roy Estess supporting the cooperation and the active participation of the resident agencies in partnerships and joint programs, the new directions in which Miller wanted to take the science program seemed timely. Although the ERL left many legacies, its early work in coastal research was perhaps the most significant. In the summer of 1996, federal and state scientific agencies across the nation were seriously looking toward coastal studies as their single, most important endeavor. The coastal research trend represented a "return to the 1970s," when the ERL was formed at the SSC with one of its main missions to begin using remote sensing techniques to study the Gulf of Mexico waters along the Mississippi and Louisiana coastlines.121
Technology Transfer: Down To Earth Science
Although the transfer of space technology from the SSC over the years has helped numerous private enterprise entities around the country, the states of Mississippi and Louisiana have clearly been prime recipients of new innovations from the south Mississippi installation. Since the early 1970s, Louisiana and Mississippi have maintained technology transfer offices at the SSC. Through these offices, SSC technology and expertise have assisted  the two states in flood control, forestry management, coastal-zone studies, and numerous other areas.122
The SSC Technology Transfer Office has aided small and large business concerns, medical institutions, and Gulf Coast fishermen. Community Coffee; Picayune, Mississippi's Delta Data Systems, Inc.; Mississippi Power Company; and the Louisiana Power and Light Company are a few of the hundreds of private companies that have used technology derived from the SSC-developed programs. In addition, NASA technology has shown up in products ranging from dog biscuits to smoke detectors. The SSC personnel have helped in the development of devices to improve eyesight of visually impaired people and in medical diagnostic tools, such as the nuclear magnetic resonance imaging scan. The SSC scientists and engineers have contributed to industries using NASA spin-off technology, creating more than 13,000 new jobs nationwide.123
The Mississippi Technology Transfer Center building, completed in 1987, has been a showplace for technology transfer supporters nationwide. Housed in the same building are elements of NASA, Department of the Interior, U.S. Navy, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Commerce, and offices representing Mississippi State University and the State of Louisiana. The Mississippi Technology Transfer Center allows the State of Mississippi to have its own technology transfer offices right in the heart of the SSC, sharing cutting-edge innovations with 22 federal and state agencies involved in more than 25 scientific disciplines.124
During the first year of his tenure as director, Roy Estess moved to strengthen SSC technology ties with Mississippi and Louisiana. Estess joined with MSFC Director Jack Lee and Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer to sign an agreement in October 1989 designed to make space technology more available to Louisiana. The SSC director, who had worked closely with the two states for years, joined with Lee and Mississippi Governor Ray Mabus on 8 December of the same year to enter into a similar pact with Mississippi. Estess named Robert "Bob" Barlow, long-time  promoter of technology utilization, as the coordinator for the project to implement the agreements. Estess continued to use his office to support technology transfer programs and demonstrated his favor for the programs in July 1996 by creating a separate Technology Transfer Office.125
In The Public Domain
The decade of the 1990s has brought changes and innovations in the SSC's approach to public programs. True, most of the traditional public information, community relations, and education programs developed during the first three decades of the SSC's history are being continued in the 1990s. But, Roy Estess and his public affairs and education teams have updated and polished old programs and initiated new innovations geared to meet the changing public interests of a new generation.126
In January 1990, Estess assigned Mack Herring, veteran Public Affairs Officer, to design a program to preserve the "rich history of the Stennis Space Center." At the same time, Estess appointed Ms. Myron Webb, a Gulf Coast native and graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi as the new SSC Public Affairs Officer. Webb, who was well known to NASA and many resident agency personnel as the University's liaison coordinator with the SSC, joined NASA in 1985 as a Public Affairs Specialist working with Mack Herring. As Public Affairs Officer, Webb and her team have created and implemented numerous education and public relations programs at the south Mississippi facility.127
Estess has a natural ability to communicate with people, as was evident first in his "marketeering" work for Balch, then as director of the RAP, and as a representative of the SSC as its deputy director from 1980-1989, and then when he was selected as the installation's fourth director. A veteran of many press conferences, Estess has always believed in an "open" public information  policy and is supportive of education and community programs. In his personal time, Estess has been a person who could be counted on in his hometown of Picayune, Mississippi. In fact, he was chosen as Picayune's "Man of the Year" and was cited for his contributions to the community, his church, and as a Boy Scout leader.128
The SSC director and his technical managers saw "first hand" the need for good communications programs when they encountered resistance from community members who opposed the ASRM program because of a perceived negative environmental impact. Estess personally led a proactive public and community relations communications effort to help the public better understand the ASRM situation, pointing out that the solid rocket motor could be static fired at the SSC without putting people or the environment in harm's way. Further, he supported Webb in her efforts to further strengthen relations with community and educational leaders.129
Because of Estess's willingness to fully delegate duties to members of his staff, Webb has had a relatively free hand to initiate her own public programs. In April 1989, Webb was instrumental in the implementation of a community involvement education program called "Coast Encounters." Through the education program, NASA education specialists visited 115 schools and addressed more than 65,000 students along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Webb, however, found an energetic educator to assist her with this as well as other innovative educational programs in Cheryl Bennett, the former coordinator of the John C. Stennis Space Center's Teacher Resource Center. Ms. Bennett, an information services supervisor, was deeply involved in the planning and implemention of the community involvement programs between NASA and Mississippi and Louisiana schools.130
The SSC celebrated its 30th Anniversary - marking the day of the initial announcement of the rocket test center on 25 October 1961 - by unveiling a  newly designed and refurbished Visitors Center. Webb still points with pride to the fact that approximately 30,000 schoolchildren come to the Visitors Center each year.131
The charismatic public affairs officer was especially pleased that the civil service and contractor public affairs team developed specialized education programs, approved by the State Board of Education, for children from preschool ages through 8th grade. In fact, several Johnson Control World Services tour guides at the Visitors Center received awards from NASA Administrator Truly for developing and implementing an extremely popular, unique program for preschoolers and kindergartners.132
In May 1993, with community relations and interest in education at an all-time high, the SSC joined with its Gulf Coast neighbors to host the opening ceremonies for the 44th Annual International Science and Engineering Fair. This hugely successful science fair drew 829 students and science fair finalists from around the world. Over 2,500 students, their parents, and Gulf Coast leaders came to the SSC on 10 May to enjoy an old-fashioned barbecue and to witness a Space Shuttle engine firing on the B-1 test stand. Director Roy Estess told the young scientists that "science and engineering are the core of everything we do at NASA, and science and engineering are the international currency of our modern technological role." Estess reminded the students of the "endless opportunities and challenges" in their future. A tremendous afternoon thunderstorm left the entire visiting group soaking wet. The heavy rains, however, did not dampen the spirits of one of the SSC's most significant and special events.133
Another education initiative was started in 1991 when NASA was preparing to manufacture the ASRMs. Called the Tri-State Education Initiative, the project, sponsored by NASA, involved a consortium of 30 schools in Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee organized to work cooperatively to enhance and broaden the capabilities of their respective educational programs within the tri-state area. The education initiative continued to draw national attention for its innovations in cooperative education long after the ASRM project was terminated. Dr. David Powe, former president of Mississippi Delta Community  College, was appointed by NASA as the project manager. The Tri-State Education Initiative, used as a national model for systematic educational reform, was cited by U.S. Department of Education Secretary Richard W. Riley in July 1996 for "leadership in education reform." While the SSC-supported education initiative flourished in the northern part of the state, public opinion of NASA's SSC continued at a high level in the surrounding area.134
From this proactive effort, there stemmed a strong partnership between the SSC and an organization known as the "Partners For Stennis." The group, composed of community leaders from all three Mississippi Gulf Coast counties and St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana, was originally organized in September 1994 as a result of mutual concerns and a need to be prepared to address any potential efforts to include the Navy elements at the SSC in the national military downsizing actions. The group immediately decided to maintain an active effort to support and enhance development of the numerous agencies located at the SSC. As the Partners group evolved, it also became a resource group to help businesses that may have the potential to locate at the SSC or in the Gulf Coast area.135
The Partners For Stennis organization hosted a community dinner to honor NASA Administrator Daniel Goldin during his 12 April 1995 visit to the SSC and the Gulf Coast. The event, held at the Great Southern Club in Gulfport, Mississippi, offered Goldin an introduction to the aggressive and influential Partners organization that supported the SSC and its programs. Goldin, pleased at the large turnout for the dinner, showed his appreciation when he was dubbed an Honorary Mississippian by Jimmy Heidel, executive director of the Mississippi Department of Economic and Community Development.136
During his speech, the enthusiastic Goldin invited members of the group to "come to Washington, D.C. and talk to your legislative delegation." A short time later, Goldin was walking through the U.S. Capitol when he met Dave Truetel, Jr., chairman of the Partners group; Irma Cry, executive director of the Slidell Area Chamber of Commerce and vice-chairman of the Partners group; and other members of the Partners group. When Goldin asked, "What are you doing up here?," they replied that they were taking his advice and  visiting their congressional delegations and those of other states, as well, to inform them of the benefits of the space program. No doubt the NASA Administrator made a mental note of the strong community support that the SSC had in this "booster" organization.137
In December 1990, at the end of his first year as SSC director, Roy Estess proudly announced that the facility had exceeded its Combined Agencies Campaign charity drive goal by contributing $217,056 to benefit charity organizations in the local Gulf Coast communities. Also, a Mississippi State University economic impact study was released in March 1990 that revealed personal income in the local area was $452.7 million in 1989 as a direct, and indirect, result of the SSC operations. The report also stated that the workforce in 1989 at the SSC numbered 5,500 people, with the majority living in Hancock, Harrison, and Pearl River Counties in Mississippi, and in St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana. A similar study, conducted in 1995 by the University and released in January 1996, showed that the SSC contributed $432 million in personal income to the communities within a 50-mile radius of the installation.138
The two economic impact figures were astonishingly similar after six years of changes, government downsizing, and the stunning loss of the Mississippi Army Ammunition Plant (MSAAP). But, even with the closing of the Army plant, the SSC stabilized and even began showing a slight growth-- with 3,531 employees. In fact, in July 1996, the congressional delegation, the Partners For Stennis organization, and other community officials were looking for new tenants for the huge plant, formerly occupied by the Army, on the northern portion of the SSC complex. Another mark of community participation was noted when the SSC government and contractor employees contributed more than $180,000 to the Combined Agency Campaign charity drive in 1995.139
The leadership of Roy Estess at the SSC was recognized when the Mississippi legislature adopted a joint resolution in March 1996 citing the SSC director's many years of service to his community, his state, and his  nation. The resolution also expressed the state's appreciation to Estess for the "many outstanding advancements on behalf of education and youth made in the State of Mississippi under his tireless leadership, guidance, and support." The recognition of the legislature was timely and well deserved.140
From the very first day that Estess worked as a test engineer at the Mississippi Test Facility in 1966, he, like Senator John C. Stennis, was proud that his home state had the opportunity to participate in "greatness" at the NASA installation located only 100 miles from his birthplace of McComb, Mississippi. Like many other Mississippians at the SSC, Roy Estess stuck with the facility through "thick and thin," never seeking career opportunities elsewhere. Estess, along with his Mississippi colleagues, always gave "the place" his very best as he worked to raise the facility to an even higher level of excellence.141
Of course, Estess was pleased that the Mississippi Legislature honored him with the joint resolution, even though the modest director was humbled to the point that when he returned to the SSC he stuck the resolution in his desk and did not tell anyone of the honor - not even Louise Porter, his trusted friend and executive secretary. Estess, no doubt, was proud that the SSC was moving ahead within NASA and on the homefront. At the same time, Estess approached his duties, during the spring of 1996, with "guarded optimism" because he felt he and his colleagues had "miles to go," in the topsy-turvy work of changing times, budget cuts, and downsizing of government, before they could rest on their "Center of Excellence" laurels.142
1. Roger E. Bilstein, Orders of Magnitude, A History of NACA and NASA, 1915-1990 (Washington, DC: NASA SP-4406, 1989), pp. 1-14; "Nasa Celebrates 75 Years," Lagniappe, 16 March 1990, Stennis Space Center Historical Records Collection (henceforth referred to as SSCHRC).
2. "NASA Honor Awards 1996," Lagniappe, 20 June 1996, SSCHRC; "SSC Designated as Lead Testing Center," Lagniappe, 20 June 1996, SSCHRC; "National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958," Public Law 85-568, 72 State. 426, pp. 334-338; Edwin R. Ling, Sr, The Space Crescent: The Untold Story - The Mississippi Connection: The National Space Technology Laboratories (Huntsville, AL: Strode Publishers, Inc. 1984), pp. 17-18.
3. "John C. Stennis Space Center Vision Statement," Lagniappe, 18 June 1992, SSCHRC.
4. John C. Stennis to Jerry Hlass, 4 August 1988.
5. Julie D. Meredith, "Memorandum For The Record: Hearing On The FY 1997 Budget Request Before The Subcommittee On VA-HUD-Independent Agencies Of The Committee On Appropriations," 16 May 1996, pp. 1-2; Charles Schultz, "Peanuts" (United Features Syndicate, Inc., 1958).
6. A.J. "Jack" Rogers, Jr., interview by Charles Bolton and Steven Patterson, Mississippi Oral History Program, University of Southern Mississippi, vol. 386, 1991, pp. 21-22, SSCHRC.
7. NASA-NSTL News Release, "Estess Appointed Deputy Director," 29 August 1990, SSCHRC; "Hlass To Take Headquarters Post: Estess Named Stennis Director," Lagniappe, 15 December 1988, SSCHRC; Roy Estess, NASA Headquarters Office of Space Flight, "Space Shuttle Processing," Report by Shuttle Processing Contract Review Team", 9 February 1987; NASA-SSC PAO, "Roy Estess, Biography," January 1996.
8. NASA-SSC PAO, "Roy Estess, Biography," July 1992; NASA-SSC History Office, Chronology, "Pursuit of Propulsion Test Mission for the NASA John C. Stennis Space Center," January 1993; Roy Estess, et. al., "White Paper, Strengthening of Ground Test Capability for Large Propulsion Systems," 10 July 1986; "Harry Guin's Desk Ready Reference File," SSCHRC. Harry Guin, like many other NASA managers, kept a "Desk Ready Reference File" of papers and documents they felt to be very important and that they might need to refer to frequently. Harry Guin's secretary, Renay Nelson, graciously provided the author with Mr. Guin's file, which has been an invaluable resource for this text.
9. Ken Human, telephone interview by Mack Herring, SSC, MS, 14 June 1996, notes in SSCHRC; Aaron Cohen, telephone interview by Mack Herring, College Station, TX, 17 June 1996, notes in SSCHRC; Reverend Ramon Leake to Mark Formby, 19 March 1996; State of Mississippi, "House Concurrent Resolution, No. 128," 27 March 1996.
11. Melinda Bowman, "New Stennis Director," Lagniappe, 16 February 1989, SSCHRC.
12. Ibid.; Roy Estess, interview by Mack Herring and Ms. Myron Webb, 24 April 1996, audio tapes and notes in SSCHRC.
13. Estess, interview; NASA-SSC Organization Chart, December 1989; "William Taylor Appointed Associate Director," Lagniappe, 18 November 1988, SSCHRC.
14. Estess, interview; SSC-PAO Biography, "Harry Guin," May 1996; A.J. "Jack" Rogers, Jr., interview by Charles Bolton and Steven Patterson, Mississippi Oral History Program, University of Southern Mississippi, vol. 336, 1991, pp. 21-22, SSCHRC.
15. Estess, interview.
16. "Former Administrator Dr. Fletcher Bids Stennis Employees Farewell," Lagniappe, 19 April 1989, SSCHRC; NASA Headquarters, "Fletcher Biography," January 1996, SSCHRC.
17. "President Nominates Richard Truly To Head Nation's Space Program," Lagniappe, 19 April 1989, SSCHRC; NASA Headquarters, "J.R. Thompson Biography," May 1996, SSCHRC.
18. Roy Estess, interview by Henry C. Dethloff, Mississippi Oral History Program, University of Southern Mississippi, vol. 444, 1991, SSCHRC.
19. "James A. Michener, statement, Task Force on Defense, Foreign Policy and Space," Committee on the Budget, U.S. House of Representatives, 28 April 1992; Michener gave similar testimony before Congress in 1979. His central theme of "riding the great tides of history" actually came from an observation by William Shakespeare approximately 400 years earlier.
20. Roy Estess, interview by Mack Herring and Myron Webb, SSC, MS, 24 April 1996; Jerry Hlass, interview by Mack Herring, Long Beach, MS, 27 February 1996.
21. Roy Estess, et. al., "White Paper on Strengthening of Ground Test Capability for Large Propulsion Systems," SSC, MS, 10 July 1996.
24. Ibid.; Estess, interview.
25. Boyce Mix, interview by Mack Herring, SSC, MS, 22 April 1996; Patrick Scheuermann, Picayune, MS, 22 July 1996.
26. NASA-SSC History Office, Chronology, "Pursuit of a Propulsion Test Mission...," January 1993; "Lenoir Visits," Lagniappe, 23 August 1991, SSCHRC.
27. Roy Estess, interview by Mack Herring and Myron Webb, SSC, 24 April 1996; Jerry Hlass, interview by Mack Herring, Long Beach, MS, 27 February 1996.
28. Boyce Mix, interview, 22 April 1996; Patrick Scheuermann, Picayune, MS, 22 July 1996; The CTF Project, however, later needed additional funding of about $45 million for completion.
29. NASA-SSC Biography, "Gerald Smith," May 1994; Gerald Smith, interview by Mack Herring and Myron Webb, SSC, MS, 22 December 1994, SSCHRC.
30. NASA-SSC History Office, Chronology, "Pursuit of A..."; NASA Headquarters News Release, "Dr. William Lenoir Appointed AA for Space Flight," 13 July 1989, SSCHRC.
31. NASA memorandum of agreement, Roy Estess and T.J. Lee, 30 August 1989, SSC Executive Records Collection, SSCHRC.
32. NASA memorandum of agreement, Roy Estess and T. J. Lee, 11 August 1991, SSC Executive Records Collection, SSCHRC.
33. NASA-SSC Management Instruction 1107.8C, 14 October 1989; SSC Propulsion Test Operations, "Charter;" NASA-SSC Management Instruction, 1107.8C, 14 November 1990.
34. "Quayle Says Space Remains Top Priority," Lagniappe, 18 July 1990, SSCHRC.
35. Richard Truly, "NASA Briefing to National Space Council on the Advisory Committee on the Future of the U.S. Space Program Recommendations," 11 January 1991; Office of the Vice-President, Press Secretary, "Advisory Committee Chairman Appointed," 25 July 1990.
36. "SSC Marks First in Engine Testing," Lagniappe, 20 August 1990, SSCHRC.
37. J.R. Thompson, "Roles and Missions Report," 8 November 1991.
38. J.R. Thompson to the NASA Administrator, 8 November 1991; Richard H. Truly to the Honorable J. Danforth Quayle, 13 November 1991; Richard H. Truly to NASA Headquarters Officials, and Center Directors-Field Installations, "Memorandum of Decision," 13 December 1991.
39. Ibid.; Gerald Smith to NASA Associate Administrator for Space Flight, 31 January 1992; "SSC and Thompson's Roles and Mission Report," Harry Guin Desk Ready Reference File, SSCHRC. In this memorandum for the record, Harry Guin noted that Thompson's "Roles and Mission Report" failed to grant the SSC a "Test Management Role."
40. NASA-SSC "Implementation Plan for a Center of Excellence for Large Space Propulsion Systems Testing," Rev. 10, Final Draft, Harry Guin Desk Ready Reference File, January 1992, SSCHRC.
42. Estess, interview by Mack Herring and Myron Webb, SSC, 42 April 1996.
43. Ibid.; Mark Craig, telephone interview by Mack Herring, SSC, MS, 21 June 1996.
44. NASA-SSC PAO Biography, Roy Estess, 8 July 1992; Estess, interview.
45. Marcia Dunn, Associated Press, "NASA Administrator Richard Truly Resigns," 14 February 1992; "Admiral Truly Submits Resignation," Lagniappe, 21 February 1992, SSCHRC; Richard H. Truly to Officials in Charge, Headquarters Offices, Directors, NASA Field Installations, "Briefing Materials For Mr. Daniel S. Goldin," 12 March 1992; Estess, interview by Mack Herring and Myron Webb, 7 July 1995; NASA Headquarters, Daniel S. Goldin, Biography.
47. Goldin Biography; Charles F. Bolden to Headquarters Officials in Charge, Field Center Directors, 7 May 1992; Cohen, interview; Craig, interview.
48. Aaron Cohen to NASA Review Team Participants, 13 August 1992, SSCHRC; Daniel S. Goldin to U.S. Representative Bob Traxler, Subcommittee on VA-HUD-Independent Agencies, U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Appropriations, 2 December 1992, SSCHRC; Roger D. Launius, NASA: A History Of The U.S. Civil Space Program (Malabar, FL: Kreiger Publishing Company, 1994), pp. 122-124.
49. Myron Webb, interview by Mack Herring, SSC, MS, 25 June 1996; Gerald Smith, telephone interview by Mack Herring, Atlanta, GA, 5 July 1996.
50. Webb, interview; Estess, interview by Mack Herring and Myron Webb, 7 July 1995; Smith, telephone interview.
51. "Goldin Makes Initial Visit To SSC," Lagniappe, 20 April 1992, SSCHRC; Estess, interview, 24 April 1996; Smith, interview, 5 July 1996.
52. Estess, interview, 24 April 1996.
53. Cohen, telephone interview.
54. Estess, interview by Mack Herring and Myron Webb, 7 July 1995; Craig, interview.
55. "ASRM Still Endangered," The (Gulfport, MS) Sun Herald (henceforth referred to as The Sun Herald), 30 January 1992; Launius, NASA: A History Of The U.S. Civil Space Program, p. 124.
56. NASA-SSC Fact Sheet, PAO, "Advanced Solid Rocket Program," April 1991; Gerald Smith, Press Briefing, 28 August 1990, transcript in SSCHRC; "Senate Committee Supports ASRM," The Sun Herald, 17 June 1992.
57. Lanee Cobb, "Advanced Solid Rocket Motor Program," Calendar of Events, April 1992; "Biography: James L. Whitten, U.S. Representative, Mississippi," SSCHRC.
58. Hlass, interview, 27 February 1996.
59. Jacqui Cochran, "Citizens Set to Stop ASRM," The (Bay St. Louis, MS) Sea Coast Echo (henceforth referred to as The Sea Coast Echo), 2 May 1991; Sharon Ebner, "Scientist: Pollutants More Dangerous Than NASA Letting On," The Sun Herald, 22 October 1989; D.C. Harvill, "ASRM Tests at Stennis May Pose Threat to Environment," The Sea Coast Echo, 27 July 1989; "Planned ASRM Testing at Stennis Will Not Harm the Environment," Lagniappe, 20 October 1989, SSCHRC.
60. See Chapter 4 of this text for account of public backing of NASA-MTF during the early 1960s, and especially the appreciation shown for NASA's arranging for the mosquito spraying of the Gulf Coast in 1963.; Alvin Toffler, Future Shock (New York: Random House, Inc., 1970), p. 327; Eric Foner and John A. Garraty, eds. The Reader's Companion to American History (Boston: Haughton Mifflin Company, 1991), pp. 219-220.
61. Dawn Moragne, "NASA Officials Address ASRM Environmental Concerns," The Picayune (MS) Item (henceforth referred to as the Picayune Item), 30 August 1989; Will Sullivan, "Local Meeting Becomes Confrontation Over ASRM," Picayune Item, 27 October 1989; Skippy Allen, "NASA Sure of Rocket Test Safety," The Slidell (LA) Sentry-News, 28 October 1989; NASA-SSC PAO Fact Sheet, "Statement by NASA Officials at the John C. Stennis Space Center," 5 June 1991.
63. "Wetlands Group Sues NASA," The Mobile (AL) Press Register, 29 May 1991; "ASRM Protest Group Said Ready to File Anti-test Suit," Picayune Item, 28 May 1991.
64. Human, interview.
65. Al Giardi, "Lott Supports More Rocket Funding," The Sun Herald, 19 April 1991.
66. Ibid.; "Senate Committee Supports ASRM," The Sun Herald, 25 September 1992.
67. "Bush's Final Budget Cuts Fund for ASRM," (Corinth, MS) Daily Corinthian, 7 January 1993.
68. "House Panel Votes to End ASRM Project," Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, 10 June 1993, SSCHRC.
70. "Funds for ASRM Cut Again," Daily Corinthian, 10 June 1993.
71. A.J. "Jack" Rogers, Jr., interview by Mack Herring, 27 June 1996; Charles "Chuck" Stewart, interview by Mack Herring, SSC, MS, 1 June 1996; Human, telephone interview; Lon Miller, interview by Mack Herring and Myron Webb, SSC, MS, 4 June 1994; A popular SSC engineer, Chuck Stewart was named construction manager, and his personality added to the spirit of the team.
72. Human, interview; Lon Miller, interview; Stewart, interview.
73. "Heavy Lifter is Said to Reflect SDI Development," Aerospace Daily, vol. 140, no. 60, Washington, DC, 31 December 1986, p. 473.
75. Ibid.; White House News Release, "Report to Congress," 4 January 1988, SSCHRC; "ALS Report Signed By President Reagan," Lagniappe, 20 January 1988, SSCHRC.
76. Ibid.; "NSTL To Test Engines For Advanced Launch System," Lagniappe, 20 January 1988, SSCHRC.
77. "Money Released for ALS Program," Lagniappe, 28 July 1988, SSCHRC; "Description, CTF," Lagniappe, 28 July 1988, SSCHRC; NASA-SSC News Release, "Stennis to Begin Construction on $40 Million Test Facility," 18 January 1989, SSCHRC; "Tree Cutting Marks Start of Facility," Lagniappe, 18 January 1989, SSCHRC; NASA-SSC Advanced Program Development Office, "Test Facility Capability Handbook," January 1995, p. 3.3-1; Pitalo, who became the chief of the Component Test Facility (CTF) Project Office, shared honors with outgoing SSC Director Jerry Hlass, on 18 January 1989 to kick-off construction of the state-of-the-art test facility. Pitalo has said the concept of the CTF was to determine the operational limits of turbopump assemblies "before they were integrated into an engine propulsion system."; Robert Bruce, interview by Mack Herring, Gulfport, MS, 29 June 1996; The Star Wars defense program was finally terminated by the Congress on 13 May 1993.
78. Ibid.; Bruce, interview.
79. Ibid.; NASA Headquarters, "Mission to Mars," HQL-281, ud.
80. "Commercial Hybrid Rocket Tested at SSC," Lagniappe, 19 November 1993, SSCHRC; "Hybrid Test Series Completed at SSC," Lagniappe, 21 November 1994, SSCHRC.
81. Bruce, interview; Mix, interview; Patrick Scheuermann, interview by Mack Herring, Picayune, MS, 22 July 1996.
82. "Stennis Selected for Space Plane Facility," Lagniappe, 21 May 1992, SSCHRC; Advanced Program Development Office, "Test Facilities Capability Handbook," High Heat Flux Facility, pp. 3.5-1 to 3.5-2.
84. "Stennis Center Builds Plane Test Facility," The Sea Coast Echo, 24 September 1992.
85. "Events That Shaped 1993," Lagniappe, 20 December 1993, SSCHRC; Picture Caption, Senator Trent Lott and Roy Estess, Lagniappe, 11 August 1993, SSCHRC; Advanced Programs Development Office, "Stennis Space Center Capabilities Handbook," High Heat Flux Facility; SSC engineers put a subscale, graphite-epoxy liquid-oxygen fuel tank designed for the NASP through thermal structural tests during the summer of 1994.
86. Scheuermann, interview; Miller, interview; Roy Estess, interview by Lisa Monti, Coast Magazine, May-June 1995, p. 27-28.
87. "SSC Forms Office for Future Testing," Lagniappe, 20 June 1995, SSCHRC.
88. NASA-SSC PAO Fact Sheet, "Reusable Launch Vehicle/Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle Program," September 1995.
89. Miller, interview.
90. NASA-SSC PAO Fact Sheet, "Reusable Launch...", September 1995.
92. "Diagnostics Testbeds Facility Leads Way In Plane Research," 18 August 1989, Lagniappe, 18 August 1989, SSCHRC.
93. Carpenter, interview.
94. Ibid.; Scheuermann, interview.
95. Pat Mooney to J. Stephens "Steve" Dick, memorandum, "Spare Components for the DTF," 23 August 1991.
96. "Goldin Visits Stennis Space Center - New Chief Challenges Facility to be the Best in the Word," (Gulfport, MS) Coast Business Journal, 27 April 1992.
97. J.R. Thompson, "Roles and Missions Report," 8 November 1992, p. 2.
98. NASA-SSC Fact Sheet, "Commercial Remote Sensing Program Office," June 1996; David Brannon, interview by Mack Herring and Myron Webb, 6 May 1996.
99. "ELAS Selected for Hall of Fame Honors," Lagniappe, 19 March 1996, SSCHRC; "As Mathematician Stereotype, Pearson Does Not Compute," Lagniappe, 25 April 1980, SSCHRC; NASA-ERL Mission Statement, 1970; The ELAS was selected by the U.S. Space Foundation's Hall of Fame in 1992.
100. Brannon, interview; "Kentucky Considers Landsat Data To Monitor Natural Resources," 8 February 1979; NASA-NSTL News Release, "NASA, University of Colorado-Bolder Study Peruvian Andes Area," 9 May 1985, SSCHRC.
101. Brannon, interview; "Regional Symposium Provides 'Open Forum' for Data Users," Lagniappe, 21 November 1979, SSCHRC.
102. David Brannon, Vitae, "Program Manager, NASA Commercial Remote Sensing Program Office," ud.; Brannon, interview; Jerry Hlass, "NSTL Goals And Objectives," 1 April 1985-31 March 1986.
103. Brannon, interview; "Proposed Program Initiative for Commercial Earth and Ocean Observations," July 1985, SSCHRC.
105. D.W. "Wayne" Mooneyhan, interview by Mack Herring, Picayune, MS, 5-6 April 1996; Brannon, interview; P.K. "Pat" Conner, interview by Mack Herring, Petal, MS, 2 April 1996.
106. Brannon, interview; Peat Marwick, "Marketing Requirements for Spatial Observations Systems," KPMG, Denver, CO, 1-3 March 1994, transcript in SSCHRC.
108. NASA-SSC PAO Fact Sheet, "Earth Observations Commercial Applications Program," 1 October 1995.
109. Brannon, interview; Marwick, "Marketing Requirements.."
110. NASA-ERL Organization Chart, 1972; D.W. "Wayne" Mooneyhan, interview; Gil Webre, "MTF's Role in the 1970s: Space Technology," The Times-Picayune, 8 July 1973.
111. NASA-SSC Presentation, "Pathworks," 14 September 1995; Jackson Balch, interview by Gateway Productions, Bay St. Louis, MS, 10 December 1974.
112. NASA-NSTL Office Of Applications Engineering, "Management Review for Jerry Hlass," 27 August 1976; Estess, Biography; Estess, interview, 7 July 1995; Estess, interview, 24 April 1996.
113. NASA-SSC Organization Chart, 16 February 1994; NASA-SSC Organization Chart, 18 July 1996.
114. Mooneyhan, interview; NASA-SSC PAO Biography, "Tom Sever," ud. circa 1996, SSCHRC; Arthur A. Demariest, "The Violent Saga of A Maya Kingdom," National Geographic, vol. 183, no. 2, Washington, DC, February 1993, pp. 95-111; "Scientist at SSC Discover New Method of Detecting Plant Stress," Lagniappe, 20 January 1995, SSCHRC; Gregory A. "Greg" Carter, "Responses of Leaf Spectral Reflectance to Plant Stress," American Journal Of Botany vol. 80, no. 3, 1993, pp. 239-243; William G. "Bill" Cibula and Maurice O. Nyquist, "Use of a Topographic and Climatological Model in a Geographic Data Base to Improve Landsat Mutli-Spectral Scanner Classification for Olympic Park," Potogrammetric Engineering And Remote Sensing, vol. 53, no. 1, January 1987, pp 66-75.
115. Richard L. "Rick" Miller, interview by Mack Herring and Myron Webb, SSC, MS, 6 May 1996.
116. Rear Admiral Paul G. Gaffney, II, interview by Mack Herring and Myron Webb, SSC, MS 13 April 1996.
118. Merna Bridgeman, Swamp To Space, "Project Studies Effects of Land Use on Coastal Environment," The Times-Picayune, ud.
119. Miller, interview; "Quick Thinking Allows NASA to Provide Hurricane Data to Gulf of Mexico Program," Lagniappe, 23 October 1995, SSCHRC.
120. Ibid. "The Shellfish Challenge: Gulf of Mexico Program Ambitious Restoration Goal," Lagniappe, 22 May 1996, SSCHRC.
121. Miller, interview.
122. Estess, interview; Miller, interview; "Stennis Scientist Studies the Birth and Death of River Deltas," 17 April 1990; "Forests Play Vital Role in Climate Control," Lagniappe, 21 November 1992, SSCHRC; Rick Galle, "Technology Transfer," Picayune Item, 30 May 1990.
123. Galle, "Technology Transfer," Picayune Item, 30 May 1990.
125. "NASA Centers Sign Agreement with State of Louisiana," Lagniappe, 22 November 1989, SSCHRC; "NASA Signs Agreement with State of Mississippi," Lagniappe, 15 December 1989, SSCHRC; Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy In America (New York: The American Library, Inc., 1956), pp. 163-168.
126. Estess, interview.
127. NASA-SSC Personnel Announcement, "Mack Herring to Develop SSC History," 13 January 1990, SSCHRC. This date marked the beginning of the History Program/Office at the SSC. Roy Estess asked the author to "develop the rich history of the Stennis Space Center." The gathering of materials for an archives began immediately and the research and writing for this text began on 12 October 1994.
128. NASA-SSC PAO "Estess Biography;" Estess, interview.
129. Human, telephone interview; "NASA Officials Meet the Press to Answer Questions on ASRM, Lagniappe, 22 November 1989, SSCHRC.
130. NASA-SSC PAO, Fact Sheet, "Early Education Monday, April 1991;"Hlass, "Management Concept...," p. 24; Webb, interview; Because of her contributions to the Gulf Coast community, Myron Webb was the first SSC employee chosen for the "Leadership Gulf Coast" program for future leaders in 1992-1993. She also served on the LGC Board, 1993-1996; the Hancock County Chamber of Commerce Board, 1994-1996; and as NASA's representative to the Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce, 1994-present; NASA News Release, "Bio Information on NASA Community Involvement Representatives," April 1989, SSCHRC.
131. "A Special Day for the Entire Family," Lagniappe, 20 November 1991, SSCHRC.
132. Webb, interview.
133. "2,500 Attend ISEF Opening Ceremony At Stennis," Lagniappe, 20 May 1993, SSCHRC.
134. NASA-SSC News Release, "NASA Announces Appointment of Program Manager for Tri-State Education Program," 22 November 1990, SSCHRC.
135. "Partners for Stennis Hold News Conference," Lagniappe, 22 March 1995, SSCHRC.
136. Partners For Stennis Dinner Program, "Dan Goldin, NASA Administrator," 12 April 1995.
137. Webb, interview by Mack Herring, SSC, 5 July 1996.
138. "Stennis Center Employees Exceed CAC Goal," Lagniappe, 15 December 1989, SSCHRC; "Stennis Space Center Makes Big Impact on Local Economy," Lagniappe, 16 March 1990, SSCHRC; "Stennis Has Impact of $411 Million," Lagniappe, January/February 1996, SSCHRC.
140. State Of Mississippi, "House Concurrent Resolution, No. 128" 27 March 1996.
141. John Seiley, video interview by Rex Cooksey and Johnny Mann, October 1991, tape in SSCHRC.
142. Louise Porter, interview by Mack Herring, SSC, 9 July 1996; Roy Estess, interview by Mack Herring SSC, 24 April 1996.