Space the final frontier as the TV show “Startek” so aptly states. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has been around since 1958 and has been going where no man has dared to go and that includes the Moon.
NASA’s vision is to reach for new heights and reveal the unknown for the benefit of humankind. They have been around for more than 50 years and this agency is constantly looking for new ways to explore space, as well as, use what they learn here back on Earth.
This large independent agency employees 17,176 professionals, technical staff, administrative, and other support personnel at 10 regional centers. The largest occupational group ─ engineers in the GS-0800 series ─ employs 9665 as of December 2015 according to FEDSCOPE, the Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM’s) data center. They employ 4,222 aerospace engineers in the GS-0861 series, 120 mechanical engineers GS-0830, 805 GS-0855 electronics engineers, and a cross section of other engineering, technical and administrative support staff. Astronauts are classified under the GS-801 general engineering occupational series and there are 2,985 employed under the GS-0801 series at NASA. Not all GS-0801 positons are astronaut positions.
To get a better perspective about this fascinating agency historian, Brian Odom, who works at Marshall Space Flight Center, located on Redstone Arsenal, AL was interviewed for this article.
Q & A with Brian Odom
How and why did NASA get started?
NASA was started on October 1, 1958 on the order of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. NASA was created to ensure a peaceful, civilian program dedicated to exploring space. The spur for the program was the US participation in the International Geophysical Year (IGY) from July 1, 1957 to December 31, 1958. During this time, the Soviet launch of the first satellite, Sputnik I and later the US satellite, Explorer I, increased the popular interest in space exploration. NASA grew out of concerns of national security that were characteristic of the Cold War.
What is the history on the Saturn, Apollo and Moon Programs?
The Saturn program (Apollo was the payload for the Saturn Launch Vehicle) developed out of President John F. Kennedy’s goal of “landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth” before the end of the decade. The Saturn V Launch Vehicle that was designed to fulfill that goal was 364 feet tall with a booster stage capable of producing 7.5 million pounds of thrust. Marshall Space Flight Center, then under the direction of Dr. Wernher von Braun, was tasked with overall management of the vehicle. On July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 became the first manned spacecraft to land them on Moon. Five more landings would follow from 1969 to the final trip by Apollo 17 in December 1972. These missions served as a demonstration of technological development in the US, a program for scientific exploration of the Moon, and developed a feasible program for living and working in space.
Current NASA Programs to include the International Space Station, Mars and others?
The International Space Station (ISS) serves as a working laboratory in space where research not possible on Earth is performed. Orbiting 240 miles above Earth and travelling at 17,500 miles per hour, the ISS has been continuously occupied since November 2000 and serves as a blueprint for the further exploration of space. The ISS is a truly international effort with support from five space agencies representing 16 nations.
Information about Marshall Space Flight Center?
Marshall is home to four National Historic Landmarks including the Redstone Test Stand, Propulsion and Structural Test Facility, Saturn V Dynamic Test Stand, and Neutral Buoyancy Simulator. Constructed by the Army in the early 1950s, the Redstone Test Stand was the first test stand in the United States to accommodate an entire launch vehicle and is the oldest landmark at the Center. The Redstone Test Stand was used for testing the Jupiter-C vehicle that launched our first satellite, Explorer I in 1958 and the Mercury-Redstone launch vehicle that launched the United States’ first astronaut into space.
The NASA Organization
NASA Headquarters, in Washington, provides overall guidance and direction to the agency, under the leadership of the administrator. Ten field centers and a variety of installations conduct the day-to-day work, in laboratories, on air fields, in wind tunnels and in control rooms.
NASA conducts its work in four principal organizations, called mission directorates:
Aeronautics: manages research focused on meeting global demand for air mobility in ways that are more environmentally friendly and sustainable, while also embracing revolutionary technology from outside aviation.
Human Exploration and Operations: focuses on International Space Station operations, development of commercial spaceflight capabilities and human exploration beyond Low-Earth orbit.
Science: explores the Earth, solar system and universe beyond; charts the best route of discovery; and reaps the benefits of Earth and space exploration for society.
Space Technology: rapidly develops, innovates, demonstrates, and infuses revolutionary, high-payoff technologies that enable NASA’s future missions while providing economic benefit to the nation.NASA does more than space exploration, they use their technology for other organizations to take advantage. Its mission is “Bringing NASA technology down to Earth”.The job occupations that will be featured in our next articles are all employees that work at Marshall Space Flight Center located on Redstone Arsenal, AL.
Technology Transfer Program
NASA does more than space exploration, they use their technology for other organizations to take advantage. Its mission is “Bringing NASA technology down to Earth”.
This program pursues the widest possible applications of agency technology to benefit US citizens. They partner with industry through the use of licensing agreements, in supporting the economy and create jobs. The Technology Transfer Program website is http://technology.nasa.gov./
The job occupations that will be featured in our next articles are all employees that work at Marshall Space Flight Center located on Redstone Arsenal, AL.
Our next Q&A will be with Christopher Todd Cannon, an Exhibit & Artifacts Manager, GS-1010 located at Marshall Space Flight Center.
Angela D. Storey, Public Affairs Officer, Marshall Space Flight Center
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About The Author
A Pennsylvania native, Betty Boyd moved to the Tennessee Valley in 1994. She retired in early 2012 after 30 years of Government service. Boyd was an Acquisition Manager/IT Manager/ Project Manager during her 30-year career. Boyd also served as a supervisor and team leader during her career. In 2012 Boyd founded a consulting firm, Boyd Consulting Services, which offers writing services to clients and companies. For more information about these writing services see the following website: http://www.BettyBoydWriting.com/.
Betty attended Athens State University, Athens, AL and received a B.B.A. in Management of Technology in 2000. She received her Masters of Science degree from Syracuse University with a concentration in Information Management in 2007. Boyd is a certified Level III contracting professional and she received a Masters level certificate in Project Management from the National Defense University in 2008.