In celebration, I have a special photo gallery, from my email-buddy... generous and hard-working Kennedy Space Center employee, Richard B.
Richard performs Quality Assurance on Orbiters and associated hardware (SRB, tank, etc.). He also travels back and forth to Dryden Flight Research Center in California for preparation of the AFTs (Abort Flight Tests) on NASA's new Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle.
Now this... THIS is the very definition of "unsung hero." Sadly, you won’t see him or his team on television or at press conferences, but Shuttles would never launch without them, that’s for sure. Their personal picture collection includes:
- 01 - QA Team with Gene Cernan (last moonwalker)
- 02 - Richard dancing in Endeavor payload bay
- 03 - Team in the midbody
- 04 - Inspection of Shuttle Discovery
- 05 - Richard poking up out of hatch
- 06 - Endeavour in vehicle assembly building
- 07 - Orbiter wing inspection
- 08 - Shuttle Atlantis heading to launch pad
- 09 - Atlantis moving to pad 39A
- 10 - Launch liftoff close-up!
The folks in the payload bay are a combination of engineering personnel and technicians from the United Space Alliance, contracted by NASA to perform maintenance on the Shuttle fleet. Richard’s job is to ensure the contract is being met and the Orbiter is safe to fly, so most of his days are spent doing GMIPs (Government Mandatory Inspection Points). He says his favorite part is being able to tell people "my office is a space ship."
Sure wish I could do something that exciting on the real hardware! (Considering that whenever I leave my hardware room at home, my office is sometimes a hospital bed, LOL...)