From: NASA HQ
Posted: Tuesday, July 26, 2011
From: Oconnor, Bryan (HQ-GA000)
Sent: Tuesday, July 26, 2011 1:22 PM
To: Lots of people
I told my staff this morning that I plan to retire effective 31 August.
From June, 2002, when Sean O'Keefe asked me to return to NASA for a third time to serve in this position, until this very day, I have been privileged to work on important projects with and among the best people in the world. Over time you have celebrated great successes and suffered and learned from horrific failures with determination, skill and a world beating attitude, and by so doing have kept me in a continuous state of awe.
A plaque on my wall says, "Flying is the second greatest thrill known to man, landing is the first." I've always liked that saying, it reminds me of my attack pilot days when a priority goal was one landing per takeoff, and of my time at Pax River where I got to do a batch of carrier suitability work with a new aircraft type. It also sums up for me why Apollo 11 and 13, our Mars landers (successes and failures), and of course, Columbia are such important parts of our history. So, even though good practice suggests shorter tours for senior leaders, that plaque probably explains why I did not want to pass the safety baton until after the STS-135 crew egressed Atlantis on the runway. This transition is a great time to let someone new take on this wonderful role you've permitted me to serve...lots of new challenges for my relief to impact early and then to see through with you to their landings.
Charlie tells me he will announce my replacement before too long; and if the new person cannot step in until after the 31st, Wil Harkins will ably lead the wonderful folks you have put in our care.
People have asked what I will do next, and my answer is pretty simple: take some leave. And, in lieu of a going-away gathering (nobody deserves three going away parties), I will see as many of you as I can in the next 5 weeks to shake your hands and tell you how proud I've been to support you and your teams.
All the Best to the Best,
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