A Mishmashed Oil Change - a memo from J. Milt Heflin, Chief, Flight Director Office, NASA JSC


image Subject: A Mishmashed Oil Change

Please forward to those that played a part in the RPCM change out EVA

On June 24, a space-beat reporter characterized the upcoming EVA (last night's) as, "a riskier-than-usual spacewalk, wearing an odd mishmash of Russian and U.S. gear, cut off at times from communications and struggling with tools in extra-stiff gloves never intended for the repairs they will make."  Webster says "mishmash" means, "a mixture thrown together without coherence".

After last night's EVA, another space-beat reporter wrote, "the two men turned what had been billed as an extra-risky mission into a task that seemed more like a 10-minute oil change." 

So, which one was it... a "mishmash" or a really quick oil change?

Neither...rather, it was another example of what flight operations has been doing ever since Chuck Matthews charged Chris Kraft to figure out a way to get a man from a launch pad into space and back again.

What Dr. Kraft developed over 40 years ago that has grown into today's "Foundations of Mission Operations" is exactly what we did in planning for and executing the EVA:

Discipline - we led when it was appropriate...we followed when appropriate...

Competence - it was total preparedness that mitigated risks associated with the possible loss of comm, long traverses, handing over command and control on the run, and combining US and Russian hardware to accomplish the primary task...all done with rigor and quite elegantly...

Confidence - we believed in our capabilities as well as those of our partners and had no fear of integrating both...

Responsibility - we stood accountable and honored those accountable...

Toughness - this EVA provided a bunch of firsts and required tenacity in solving the bilateral problems...no one does this without being tough...

Teamwork - this effort was the epitome of teamwork involving cooperation in integrating US and Russian assets and executing seamless real-time command and control handovers...

Those of you that had a part in this need to take the time to reflect upon what was accomplished and feel good about it...

This was not a "mishmashed oil change"... rather, it was an illustration of that part of our culture that does not fear solving problems and accomplishing great things...

Congratulations and well done!

J. Milt Heflin
Chief, Flight Director Office
NASA-JSC

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