NASA Internal Memo From Wayne Hale: "Not done yet"


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From: Hale, N W. (JSC-MA)
Sent: Tuesday, December 04, 2007 8:25 PM
To: JSC-DL-SSP; KSC-DL-PH-All-Launch-Vehicle-Processing-Directorate; MSFC-DL-SSP TECH MANAGERS
Subject: Not done yet

As long as there is breath in her body, Mom is not done with you.

I'm 53 years old and my Mom still calls me up with little bits of advice: your red tie would look better with the blue suit than the yellow one you wore; don't you think its time for a haircut?

My son's graduate school diploma is gathering dust on its frame, he is married and has two kids; but my wife, his mom, still finds opportunities for his improvement.

Of course there is an exception that proves the rule: the 3 year old grandson is perfect in every way.

No, wait, his mom, my daughter in law, has some recommendations for improvement there.

You are never too old for Mom to work on your improvement. She is not done with you.

I have a coffee mug that I use most every day. I bought it really cheap at a surf shop on Cocoa Beach, you probably know the one. It has the NASA meatball on one side and the slogan: "Get with the program" on the other. I really like it, and it was really cheap. It was some time after I bought it that I noticed the NASA meatball insignia was not complete: some of the red swoosh was missing in the middle of the blue meatball. The mug is incomplete, not finished.

In recent months several folks have left the shuttle program or the larger agency. Some of them went to really high paying jobs outside. Some got big promotions, fancy offices, fancy titles, new and exciting work to do.

Some of my friends have suggested that I would do well to put my name in that hat, look for a promotion, get a big raise, do something new and exciting.

Perhaps you have friends suggesting the same for you.

But there is that coffee mug reminding me: we're not done yet. There is work to do here. The Shuttle still has more flights to go than all of Apollo's manned missions.

And in case you missed it, there is excitement, and there are new problems to solve. But most of all, the shuttle is flying. There are many jobs in this round world, but where else can you work on the most exciting flying program today?

There is heartpounding excitement every single flight. Drama and fear and joy and accomplishment. Frequently we have to resort to what my sports obsessed buddies call "broken field running" where the play didn't exactly turn out the way it was planned. Improvisation, and improvisation in a hurry at that, is required to be successful. We do a lot of broken field running.

Future programs and long term dreams are great and I'm glad we have them. I take nothing away from the folks working on the future. But we have a job to do now. Our agency, our country, and our astronauts need us. You and me. The folks who have done this for a while. And who know the why as well as the how the shuttle flies.

So I've decided: I'm in it for the long run. I don't intend to leave before the last wheel stop. There is plenty enough excitement and fulfillment to outweigh the biggest bonus or the fanciest office. There will be time for the future when it comes.

Because we're not finished yet.

I hope you are in it with me.

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