From: Hill, Paul S. (JSC-DA)
Sent: Thursday, November 27, 2008 12:23 PM
Subject: MOD Thanksgiving
Happy Thanksgiving MOD -
Although I treasure time with my family, I always got a kick out of being in the control center on holidays. What better celebration of human spirit and achievement than another day doing this amazing thing we are a part of, manned space flight*? Today is no different, although minutes in an MMT are not quite the same as a day on the flight control team. Still, it's poetic that on Thanksgiving Day the ISS mission for STS-126 is wrapped up and the team is making final preparations to close hatches this evening and undock in the morning.
As we celebrate another very successful mission that will soon come to a close, it occurs to me that we sometimes send the wrong message in the end of mission euphoria. So let me clarify.
Shuttle missions are neither the only work that we do, nor are they the only space flight we participate in. We have almost a million pounds of ISS in orbit, every minute of every day, and that ISS doesn't fly itself. We also have a rapidly increasing effort in defining the next generation of manned vehicles and their associated flight operations, which will be upon us in just a few, increasingly short years. Even further, flight control is not the only MOD effort required to make manned space flight* happen. In fact, in bean-counter-speak, it's a relatively small percentage of MOD's total budget and work load.
MOD is a large enterprise responsible for the full spectrum of planning, training and flying the nations manned space missions, and managing and modernizing the ground infrastructure required for all of the above. This requires the best effort of every one of us, every day, to keep MOD moving forward in all of our manned space flight* plan/train/fly and facilities work and to ensure we're always doing the right thing for the programs who are relying on us, and for the men and women whose lives depend on us continuing to be MOD. That doesn't mean just flight control. It means the full breadth of MOD, every bit of which is necessary for the flight control team to be able to go on console and represent all of us when the clock is ticking.
All of that said, we all should remember what JSC and MOD are here for: enable men and women to fly in space. We are here to do everything possible to send our friends and heroes into space, accomplish a wide array of missions and come back home safely, despite an exceptionally hostile flight environment, enormous energies being managed and controlled, competing political pressures, and more. Thus, that same best effort from the full breadth of MOD is dedicated to that same single minded objective, manned space flight*.
Given that, the obvious and publicized successes of a rapid fire Shuttle flight give us a good opportunity to stop and take inventory of our achievements. That does not diminish the huge effort required to keep ISS operations moving every day, and to make it look easy. Likewise, it does nothing to suggest the much larger plan/train/fly and facilities work MOD musters every day is less important than Shuttle flight. But like a holiday, reaching a milestone like the end of a joint Shuttle-ISS mission is a reminder to all of us to look up from our work and be proud of everything we've done for MOD and the cause, manned space flight*.
On this holiday in particular, do just that. Look around at what you and the folks around you have accomplished and enabled to take place in orbit, not just for STS-126 but in everything we do. Then give thanks for being part of it. I do every day.
Look what we did, look at what we do every day and look where we're going.
It's a great day to be MOD.
* Note: For those who prefer, feel free to substitute human, peopled, inhabited, crewed or progress even further to sentient or corporeal space flight. Try to resist the urge to send me an e-mail about it though.