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Thanksgiving NASA style

Started by maurice clark, 11/19/2007 05:56PM
Posted 11/19/2007 05:56PM Opening Post
Below is a memo from NASA administrator Mike Griffin, which was posted at another forum I visit and I thought would be of interest here.



Thanksgiving Message from the Administrator:
Thanksgiving, NASA Style

I don't like spamming you with messages from NASA HQ; my own Inbox stays
quite full, and I know yours does too. But I thought the story below,
relayed to me from John Chapman, Shuttle External Tank Program Manager at
NASA-MSFC, was worth passing on. It seems that quite a few of the most
senior and experienced production sprayers and others at our Michoud
Assembly Facility have been volunteering to work second and third shift, so
that they could obtain unrestricted access to critical-path work areas. They
did not just agree to come on a few occasions when asked to do so by
management, but have been requesting that they be allowed to work up to
twelve-hour shifts all through the night. In Chap's words,

"It was awesome. We walked out of the control room and into the large
manufacturing bay of MAF Building 420 at about 9:30 last night. ET-126 was a
beehive of activity... One team was removing access platforms and protective
covers from the intertank as it was getting its final close-out inspection
and video documentation. At the aft end of the tank, two men were putting
the final machining touches on the BX spray they did the preceding evening
to close out the manhole cover. This was the second run at this in the last
several days by these guys, who are our top sprayers. The first time there
was one plug-pull value that was on the low end. Good enough is not good
enough in this area of highest heating from the engine plumes, so it was
stripped and re-sprayed to perfection. It is also very noteworthy that both
these guys knew about the series of small frost balls we had in this area
during the last countdown and were taking steps to ensure all their knit
lines between passes were absolutely perfect. This is feedback to the
production floor at its best.

Over on the -Y longeron, the final touches were being made to the foam with
a cylindrical hand-sanding tool to home in on the shape required by the
drawing. Sand a bit, vacuum the dust, check the curve... sand a bit, vacuum
the dust, check the curve ... The look on that tech's face spoke volumes as
he was making the finished part materialize out of this chunk of foam:
Michaelangelo could not have taken more pride in his work.

Large areas of the tank are "roped off" where access is prohibited. The
detailed final inspection shakedown has already been completed in these
places. The bottom line... "Ready to Ship" on 11/21 looks very achievable
now. Why??? Because so many of our top team members have volunteered, on
their own without management pressure, to come in and work on the back
shifts when they can get unfettered access to the tank to work their magic.
I spoke with more than a dozen of them last night. Their pride in being able
to contribute their skills to the American Space Program shows in their
every move. This is an incredible team down here, truly a national

There are stories here, parables for our time and our business.
Here is a team that is not only willing, but eager, to work overtime to fly
on schedule. But not only do they want to fly on schedule, they want to fly
well. They come in on their off-shifts so that they can have unfettered
access to the tank, and the freedom to do their best work. They know what
their best work looks like, and they have a passion that each tank will be
nothing less. They do not just follow instructions blindly; they know why
their work has to be the best, because they follow the flight history; they
know how their product performs. And finally, when they have a product that
is good but not the best, they have the guts to start over. Last week, they
did not like a spray they had done on the tank, so they removed the foam and
re-sprayed. They know schedule is critical, but they also know the right
thing to do.

How many of us could take a lesson from these folks at MAF and apply it to
our own work? Whether we do research, generate spreadsheets, solve
equations, interpret the law, write code, do accounting, lay out wiring
harnesses, calculate orbits, design structural elements, or whatever it is
that we do, how many of us show the dedication to our work, without fanfare
or expectation, that is demonstrated by this workforce at Michoud,
technicians who spray and shape the foam on our shuttle external tanks?

Some of these folks are still living in FEMA trailers, and many cannot
rebuild their old homes in an area still devastated two years after Katrina.
They are making these personal sacrifices in the midst of lives that are
still in turmoil. Yet they keep doing what they do so well. It is
incomprehensible and wonderful at the same time.

This is our workforce -- in this case our contractor workforce -- at its
very best. This is what makes me proud to be at NASA. The conquest of air
and space, the pursuit of scientific discovery in space, is the toughest
business in the world. It is unforgiving of the most minor errors, but, when
we do it right, it is the most exhilarating business there is. It needs the
best people that our nation has to offer. Fortunately, we have them.

At this time of the year, it is for this that I give thanks.

Michael D. Griffin
NASA Administrator

* Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a day.
* Teach a man to use the internet and he won't bother you for weeks.
Posted 11/19/2007 11:49PM #1
Thankyou for sharing this great story. This shows me that there is still PRIDE in ones work. smile smile smile


Be a Blessing too someone today !
Clear Skys,
Bill - Astro Hillbilly 8)
And Pluto is still a Planet !
Posted 11/20/2007 06:09AM #2
Awesome reading...
Thanks Maurice! 8)

Ivan Gastaldo 8)
Coconut Creek, FL

Ivan's Observatory
Lat 26N 16' 48" Long 80W 10' 48"
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