NASA Johnson Space Center
Oral History Project
Edited Oral History Transcript
Interviewed by Carol Butler
17 April 2001
Today is April 17, 2001. This oral history with Carl Shelley is being
conducted for the Johnson Space Center Oral History Project at the
offices of the Signal Corporation in Houston, Texas. Carol Butler
is the interviewer, and is assisted by Kevin Rusnak and Kirk Freeman.
Thank you very much for joining us today.
To begin with, if you could tell us a little bit about how you got
interested in aviation and aerospace and what kind of led you toward
When I graduated from college, I was committed to go to the military,
to the Air Force, and I was assigned to White Sands Missile Range
out in New Mexico. I showed up for work out there as a brand-new second
lieutenant, not knowing anything, and they promptly told me that “You
are now the weapons systems evaluation officer for something called
a GAR-11 missile,” a Guided Air Rocket missile. That was an
air-to-air rocket, guided, for interceptive purposes, for shooting
at bombers and things like that. But the thing had a nuclear warhead
in it and everything else. It was a significant project with millions
of dollars, and I knew nothing about what a GAR rocket was or anything,
but I learned in a hurry. They put me in charge of evaluating the
So I had three years of service in the military associated with missiles
and weapons systems. The prime contractor on that activity was Hughes
Aircraft Company. When my three years in the service was up, it was
somewhat natural for me to ask Hughes for a job, you know, basically.
So they were more than happy and willing to offer me a job, and I
went to work on the Surveyor Project. I don’t know if you know
what that is. It’s the first soft-landing on the moon.
So I was working Surveyor, supporting Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in
the mission analysis area, mission and systems analysis. As it turned
out, I’m sitting at my desk there one day, and a fellow that
I had worked with in the Air Force had gotten out of the Air Force
and had gone to work for NASA. He was the deputy division chief down
here in what then was the Flight Control Division in the Missions
Operations Directorate, a fellow by the name of Dave [David H.] Owen
[Jr.]. They were looking for people, staffing up, getting ready to
make the run for the Moon. So he calls me up and offers me a job.
I notice you had this question in here [referring to documents] about
[job] interviews. I never had an interview or anything like that.
In fact, I agonized for a couple of months before taking the job to
come down here, because I had a good job. I mean, we were landing
on the Moon, and we were going to get there first. But ultimately,
they twisted my arm, and Dave talked me into coming down here.
So I came down in November of ’64, which turns out, in retrospect,
it had been a pretty good time to come to JSC [Johnson Space Center],
because we were just beginning to make the preparations for flying
the first Gemini mission out of the new Mission Control Center. That
was just being built. Anyway, I came in and reported in to the Flight
Control Division. They had asked me to work in the area of simulation
and training and just general preparation activities for getting the
flight control team ready to fly. So that’s how I got here.
Certainly an interesting path.
It was an interesting path. I thought at the time—well, Hughes
didn’t want me to leave. I’m one of those guys who took
a pay cut to come down here, but we’re going to the Moon. Those
are the guys that are going to do that, so this was the place to be.
I don’t regret having made that trip.
I came down. Things were chaotic. The office, I was in Building 30,
the administrative wing. The Space Station side had not been built
then obviously, but the control center, the original control center
part was there, and the office wing was there. We were in the office
wing. That’s where our offices were, and there was stuff piled
everywhere. The hallways were littered with all the office supplies,
and everything from copying machines to papers and everything was
scattered. It was crowded up. Not enough room. They had just moved
in, of course, because just before I got here a couple months earlier,
most of them had been in offices up the freeway there, the Stahl &
Myer’s Building, and you may have heard of those. So they were
trying to get people on site. So everything was really chaotic. It
was a fun time, I’ll tell you. There was nothing bureaucratic
about anything, though. If you needed to do something, you just went
and did it.
Chris [Christopher C.] Kraft [Jr.] was the Director of Flight Operations
at that time. A fellow by the name of John [D.] Hodge, whom you’ve
probably heard of, was the Division Chief in the Flight Control Division.
John was an Englishman. You’re familiar with John?
Running the division. And, of course, this guy, Dave Owen, whom I
had worked with in the Air Force, was the deputy division chief.
There must have been, I don’t know, maybe 150 people in flight
control. Might have been 200, counting the contractor staff. Most
of the contractors were Philco people in those days. Philco later
became Ford, later became Loral, but they were Philco in those days.
Most of those people had experience in remote-site operations of various
types and had been brought in to help the flight control team gets
its act together here.
But there were a number of civil servants, 100 or so, maybe. [Eugene
F.] Kranz was here. Glynn [S.] Lunney was here. Cliff [Clifford E.]
Charlesworth. Most of the names of the people of that era that you’re
familiar with, they were all there in Flight Control Division at that
time. Jerry [C.] Bostick, Arnie [Arnold D.] Aldrich.
I went to work for a fellow named Harold [G.] Miller. You may not
know Miller. He was heading up the Mission Simulation Branch. There
was another fellow named Jim [James A.] Miller, who was also in that
branch. Those two gentlemen probably don’t get as much credit
as they should for developing, in particular, the simulation and training
systems that were put in place. Harold was a thinking individual,
very quiet fellow from Tennessee. Jim Miller was kind of an outgoing
fellow from Missouri who was responsible for developing the simulation
system, building it and everything. But, anyway, both those people
played major roles in getting the early simulation system on line.
Had they been involved with it in the Mercury Program and followed
Harold had. I’m not sure exactly when Jim came on board, but
Jim was a computer guy, primarily. He was a hardware builder. But
Harold had been involved in Mercury in training and simulation. In
fact, he and Glynn Lunney and fellow named, I believe, Dick [Richard
A.] Hoover and Stan [Stanley] Faber were pretty much the Mercury simulation
team, if you will.
So when I came to work here, they already had some idea about what
they wanted to do. And what they wanted to do, of course, was to build
this fairly sophisticated closed-loop simulation system. It was called
SCATS in those days, Simulation Checkout and Training System. It had
a name like that because it was to be used for checking out the control
center as well as for conducting the simulation activity for training
flight controllers. But what it was, of course, I think we had 7094
computers, IBM 7094 computers in those days, which was as big as you
could get, but still not too impressive compared to today’s
Anyway, one of those things was called a ground systems support computer
or ground support systems computer—I’m not sure, GSSC
[Ground Support Simulation Computer]—in which we developed models
of the spacecraft for the purpose of not only simulating the control
center telemetry systems and command systems and tracking and data
systems activity, but also to represent the systems to flight controllers
for purposes of training. So that’s what we were doing. We were
building these math models and these computer models with the intent
that we would conduct these closed-loop simulation exercises using
this computer as a supplement to the Gemini Mission Simulator, which
was the primary crew trainer, which also could be tied into the control
center and conduct closed-loop simulations with both the crew and
the flight controllers. We basically developed all the capabilities
that exist today, the way you still do it today. We did that in Gemini
In addition, in those days, we had the tracking networks around the
world, still had these remote sites out there, so we had to worry
about how do you integrate those flight control teams which were deployed
for every flight. How do you integrate those people into this overall
training environment? So we built a couple of simulated remote sites
that were here, and the computer would sequence them in sequences
they would be acquiring the vehicle if they were in a real flight.
So as they rotated around the world, we would turn the telemetry on
and off into these remote sites, and the flight controllers would
be in there, and they would function back to the control center, which
was just through the wall next door, but it made it look more real.
So that’s what we were doing.
We flew the first—well, I guess on Gemini III was what we call
a flight-following mode. The new control center here was used in a
flight-following mode to monitor Gemini III, which was controlled
from the Cape. But on Gemini IV, we flew the first mission using the
local control center, so we had to do all the preparation activities,
training preparations, and everything for that flight, for Gemini
IV. Then we flew every remaining Gemini mission from the control center
My job was one of basically preparing the flight control team, making
sure that it was really understanding how they did business, what
their procedures were, what the flight systems were, and try to find
weaknesses in that entire process, and to illustrate that and demonstrate
that through these simulation exercises, with the understanding that
we were using the simulation exercises not only to train people, but
to help develop the mission plans, if you will, the flight procedures.
Probably the major benefit of simulations, really, is in the business
of developing the procedures and validating the plans for a flight.
Most flight controllers, by the time they show up in a control center,
already understand the systems. I mean, they’ve already gone
through a lot of classroom training, they’ve done a lot of flight
preparation activities, developing handbooks, procedures, etc.
Even in those days, really the prime training mechanism for training
people to become flight controllers, it was almost OJT [on-the-job
training]. They trained by doing the job. They wrote the procedures,
developed the procedures, they developed all the reference handbooks,
they developed the flight rules, and that is a very good training
exercise. If you have to go through the thought processes where you
have to decide what are we going to do, in all these “what if”
situations, so they are already very smart people by the time they
get to a simulation. So the simulation is really a validation exercise,
a verification activity.
But this was the first time this had been done at this scale. It was
a very large system. We had a lot of trouble developing the systems.
IBM built the 7094 computer and developed the GSSC software and everything
for us. There were a lot of long hours in the middle of the night,
checking those systems out and trying to get the system up and running
and keep it running.
You mentioned that the flight controllers had been through a lot of
classroom training on the systems, that they were familiar with a
lot of that beforehand. How did you, on the simulation side, build
up that familiarity with the systems?
We went through the same courses, did the same things. The simulation
team had all the same disciplines as the flight control team. They
had us outnumbered, because they had to have four or five teams, but
we only had one team. But we always had the advantage of knowing what
we were trying to do in the exercise, whereas they didn’t. It
was an exam for them. They didn’t know. So we had to struggle
at times, but we could keep up with them pretty well. But we went
to all the same courses, took all the same formal courses. And we
would bring contractors in, like McDonnell [Aircraft Corporation]
might come in and conduct a class on the Gemini spacecraft and just
different areas. We did a lot of that. But the training people were
basically just like controllers who had the job of training the other
guys associated with them.
And during flights, in fact, we used the training people many times
to support the main flight control team functions. We would put people
in them. Not out in the front room activities, but in the back rooms,
in the staff support rooms, we would use training people to supplement
the flight teams. They would do things like data analysis and monitoring
of various events, those kinds of things. For a couple of reasons.
One is, we needed a lot of good feedback from the missions, and the
flight teams needed help. We never had enough people, it seemed like,
so we did a lot of that.
For you all it was a lot of on-the-job training as well, then.
Everybody was learning on the job. This whole thing was just one whole
big on-the-job thing. This was all young people. If you were thirty
years old, you were an old man in that group. In fact, by the time
of Apollo 11, I guess, I think Gene Kranz was probably thirty-four,
and he was the oldest guy around. I guess maybe Charlesworth was older
than Gene, but Lunney was like thirty-two, I was thirty. So most people
were younger than we were. So it was a young men’s activity,
which probably nobody told them they couldn’t do it, so they
went ahead and finished it off. But it was a lot of fun in those days,
a lot of fun in those days.
The actual training and simulation activity is very much the same
as it is done today, conceptually. We changed it a little bit in Shuttle,
but fundamentally the same types of activity go on. Training teams
spend a lot of time doing what is very similar to the work I was doing
at Hughes as mission analysis, really understanding what are you trying
to do and what can go wrong in this situation, or how does the flight
control team plus its infrastructure really gear itself up to support
this activity, and where are the weaknesses in the overall plan. So
the simulation people did a lot of thinking, if you will, scheming.
Flight controllers would tell you it would be scheming.
But the idea was to see if you could poke holes in the plan, and if
you can, then the plan needs to be revised. Or if, through the attempt
to poke a hole in it, you demonstrate that the individual doesn’t
know his material quite well enough, then you know you have to go
train some more. We hadn't flunked people out. You don’t do
that. These guys already, you’ve got so much invested in them,
you just don’t flunk them out. If they need more, you do more.
It’s the same as we do with the crew. You don’t flunk
a crewman if he doesn’t quite understand the electrical power
system. You go give him more time in the simulator until he does get
it. That’s the way we did flight controllers, too. Once a person
was assigned to a team, he was going to get whatever training we had
time to give him.
Now, probably there was some weeding out before people were assigned
to teams. In fact, there was a lot of that. But those judgments were
made by the branch supervisors of those people before they put them
on the teams. The training people didn’t get involved in that.
So there were no grades given, nothing like that.
A team effort all around, trying to make it happen.
The simulation organization in those days was organized pretty much
the way it is now. You had systems controllers. You had flight dynamics
controllers, and then we had an integration group, basically, that
pulled the whole thing together. I think we called them probably Gemini
Operations Sections. In fact, I think we had Gemini Operations Sections
1 and 2 at one time, and an Ops and Test Section, which was an Integration
Section. Later we had an Apollo Section, we had a Gemini Section,
because they were all in the same branch. But it’s all the same
thing, and it’s a mirror image, if you will, of the rest of
the Flight Control Division at that time, is what it was. But it was
all just to make sure we covered the proper disciplines.
Well, we did have one discipline the rest of the flight control people
didn’t have. We had to simulate the astronaut. When we did those
math models, we had to play the role of the astronaut. We called that
position astro-sim, I think is what we called that. Some of the guys
enjoyed doing that, because they would take the opportunity to jab
the flight controllers a little bit from a crew perspective. But that
was always fun.
What were some of the challenges in bringing all this? Because you
were building from the Mercury background, which was rather limited
Shelley: And which most of us didn’t know anything about. I
mentioned Harold Miller had been there, so he knew a little bit about
it. So he conceptually knew what was going on. But we quickly figured
out what it was we were trying to do. It was basically an analysis
problem to understand what the mission requirements were, what we
were trying to do. I think the biggest challenge we had was in actually
developing the system to represent the environment that we wanted.
We spent a lot of time.
You know, it’s pretty easy to define a math model if you’ve
got an infinitely-sized computer, but it’s very difficult to
scale it down and still have it represent the proper functions that
you want, to a fidelity that is proper for flight controller training.
We spent a lot of time developing math model requirements, defining
which telemetry points do we really need, you know, to make dynamic
versus which ones can we make static. By that I mean a dynamic parameter
would be one that would be computed in real time in closed loop with
the environment. Another one could just be a static number we put
in there. Maybe it’s a temperature that doesn’t change
very much, so we just put a number in.
Anyway, wading through that mass of data and deciding what you really
needed and what you could get away without simulating was always a
choicy situation. We spent a lot of time on that. We spent a lot of
time developing the proper command responses, defining each model
so that a flight controller could sit at his console and command this
computer and see the proper response. So we spent a lot of effort
building what in that day was called the ground system support computer.
At the same time, we also defined a lot of the malfunctions and things
for the simulator. We did a lot of work for the simulator, because
the crew really couldn’t care less if the telemetry stream coming
out the end of the simulator was proper. He wasn’t looking at
it. So it was pretty much up to us to make sure that the simulator
represented the proper interfaces back to the control center, too.
So we spent a lot of time on that.
I’ve got an estimate. I was going to look and see. Probably
at a peak, we maybe had seventy-five or eighty people just working
training and simulation, which was a pretty good-sized branch, you
know. But we did ultimately have to get to the point where we had
to have multiple teams because we were flying every two months, remember
now, flying Geminis every two months. They were just leapfrogging
each other, coming along there. So we had to get some more people.
Plus, you have to also remember that while Gemini’s going on,
we’re getting ready for Apollo. So we’re building, trying
to build the Apollo simulation system, and it’s a different
animal from the Gemini simulation system. Conceptually it’s
the same, but you have to define all those math model requirements
and things all over again for a different vehicle. So we had quite
a bit of activity going on there in the late sixties.
How did you keep up with the changes from mission to mission in such
a time schedule?
It was very difficult. Before that, it was difficult to keep up with
the vehicles. We had to concern ourselves with what does an Apollo
command and service module even look like today, or more particularly,
what’s it going to look like two years from now when we fly.
The difficulty we had was, it’s always very difficult to simulate
something six months before the flight, because we had requirements
for systems knowledge in order to write these math models that didn’t
exist yet. I mean, or it wasn’t very good anyway, if it did
exist. So you were always guessing as to which way the designer’s
going with a particular system. But you had to start early, because
if you didn’t, you couldn’t finish it and have it ready
in time. So we made a lot of guesses, made a lot of them wrong, but
we got a lot of them right, too. So we had that problem.
Then you had the mission planning activity that goes on. Mission Planning
and Analysis Division really initiated the first products associated
with the mission plans. We got to the point where they would do a
reference version and then we ended up with a basic version and, finally,
a final version. We staged these deliveries so that we had a pretty
good definition, as best they could define what they were doing. Of
course, the flight planning people had to respond to that and build
crew timelines to fit those mission profiles, and the flight control
team had to prepare all of their activities to fit those profiles.
So everybody had the same problem. We were all trying to stay abreast
of what was going on. So we helped each other out quite a bit. But
there were many instances in which we didn’t get the final configuration
until just a few weeks, two, three, or four weeks, sometimes, before
Geminis were similar enough, though, that that wasn’t a real
problem. At least the spacecraft was pretty much the same going through
there. We were doing different things, but the fact of the matter
is, the real thing we tried to do in Gemini was to develop rendezvous
techniques. Some people think that’s when the Russians lost
the space race, was when the United States actually demonstrated the
rendezvous capability. I sort of agree with that myself. That’s
a very important event that occurred during the course of all this
activity. But, anyway, those techniques, once we got beyond Gemini,
’76 or so, rendezvous were all pretty much standard.
There were some things that came along later, things like astronaut
maneuvering units [AMU], which were a lot of trouble with those things.
So EVA [extravehicular activity] developed during the later courses
of Gemini there, and that led to things like neutral buoyancy trainers,
the water tanks, you know. We didn’t have those in the beginning.
They are a direct outgrowth of the experiences we had during the Gemini
astronaut maneuvering unit activities and a lot of other things, I
guess, that pretty much got validated as an approach and cast in concrete
in the training world that came out of Gemini.
Certainly, going in, we weren’t too sure how well all of this
big fancy simulation system was going to work. It was very expensive.
It was very expensive. If it didn’t work out, well, who knows,
you know. But it did. And we were confident enough early on there
with the results that we got from it, that we felt comfortable in
proceeding to Apollo with the concept. So the SCATS system was rebuilt
for Apollo and it was called ASCATS, Apollo SCATS. All that meant
was that it was just reconfigured to reflect Apollo. A lot more work,
though. More models, more vehicles.
We did change one thing. During Gemini, the launch vehicle was part
of the Gemini mission simulator. For Apollo, we built the Saturn launch
vehicles as part of the ground system support computer, and we actually
launched the crew simulators from the computer systems here. That
just made it complicated, because we had to have a unique simulation
computer-to-computer link between the simulators, which were at the
Cape. The ones we were always using would be configured, and the configuration
we wanted would be the ones that were at the Cape. We had the launch
vehicle sitting up here, so that was always fun to get that working.
But it worked. We had no problem with that.
We did start Apollo with the AS201, we did the 501, unmanned shots
and everything. Those were all done with the math models and computers
early on. By this time, let’s see, I did Apollo 7, which was
the first manned vehicle. I was the simulation supervisor on it, and
I had done several other Gemini missions as sim sup.
Incidentally, that’s how we organized the teams, the same as
they are today, pretty much. We had all the disciplines represented
under a guy we called a simulation supervisor, who was responsible
for developing all the scripting materials and things for exercising
the flight control team. The sim sup, his major interface with the
flight control team was with the flight director, so he and the flight
director would sometimes collectively scheme for certain kinds of
I know Kranz had ideas. He’d say, “Well, you know, I’m
not real comfortable with the way these guys are reacting over in
this other area here. Dream up something you know that will exercise
that.” So there was very much a collusion going on between some
of the flight directors and the sim sup. But there was also a lot
of exercising that was done in which the flight director was not a
party to what was going on, because he had to take the exam, too.
But, anyway, by the time we got to the early parts of Apollo, the
job was large enough that we were rotating assignments in ways that
certain guys would go off and do the unmanned missions and other people
would do the manned missions.
Dick [Richard H.] Koos, whom you may have heard of, ended up doing
most of our Apollo 11 simulation supervisor stuff. I think he’d
maybe done 201. I think Gerry [Gerald D.] Griffith did 501, if I remember,
but I don’t remember exactly now who did what. But, anyway,
I did Apollo 7. I got the first manned mission. That was Wally [Walter
M.] Schirra [Jr.] and [R.] Walt[er] Cunningham and Donn [F.] Eisele
flew that. It was a real simple mission, I mean in terms of complexity.
All we had to do was launch this thing and bore holes in the sky for
a couple of weeks.
But the thing I wanted to mention was, it was, of course, the first
flight involving man, so the spacecraft systems and everything were
all the topic of interest for the training. We had, I wouldn’t
say a rebellion. Well, maybe it was that. I’m not sure. There
was some disharmony between the onboard crew and the flight control
team, because Schirra felt very much so, or at least he wanted to
think, that the flight director was now on board. So we had some issues
that surfaced in the course of doing Apollo 7. Later on I think that
all kind of worked out, but during the flight some of that surfaced.
It took Deke [Donald K.] Slayton and those guys getting on the loop
and talking to Wally to tell him how it was going to be, things like
that. But other than that, there was no real issue on Apollo 7 that
I remember. We just turned the crank, because there was nothing new
about it other than it was a different vehicle.
Mentioning things arising during flight and during real time, and
this obviously was more of a personality issue, but things with equipment,
too, how would that affect your simulations for later?
If we had an experience in flight that we thought was something that
we hadn’t thought of or that was worthy, it always got added
into the repertoire. Something like that would get added in. Not many
things happened in flight.
Well, I should back up. Remember, now, you’re not trying to
define all the “what if” situations. You’re only
trying to define those that the flight control team or the crew can
do something about. For example, an obvious example, something like
a Challenger accident, we didn’t bother to simulate something
like that. There’s no training value in it, and there’s
nothing anybody could have done about it. So we never did any things
But problems that would occur where they are solvable, and if we didn’t
have a flight rule to cover it or if we didn’t have a malfunction
procedure to cover it, we were always on the lookout for those kinds
of things. The flight control team was, too. If they had a problem
that occurred for which they didn’t have a malfunction procedure,
then, of course, one got written. We trained on all malfunction procedures.
That was the thing we spent a lot of time on, was going through all
the malfunction procedures to make sure that we had sampled enough
of them so that we felt that they were comfortable with how they were
applying them. In fact, all simulations are based on malfunction procedures.
Even today, that’s the way they pretty much have them. So, yes,
we were always looking for closing the loop back to the training.
Actually, the training program probably exercised so many things that
missions tend to be kind of boring sometimes. We had a lot of mal
While we’re sort of on the topic, how would you build those
simulations and how were they designed? Would you start with smaller
scale and work up to full mission duration? If you could talk through
some of those.
Sure. Well, as I said, it’s a mission analysis problem. You
back up, you look at what do we do from liftoff through reentry. Which
are the phases, where are the critical events, where are the defining
events in this profile? You analyze that. You decide, well, okay,
what could go wrong here, what do they have to be able to cope with,
you know, to respond to, in order to keep things headed down the right
path in the face of maybe a couple of problems on the side.
So you look at that and you start doing a little scheming. It is a
scheming thing. But there are some guidelines you use. Initially,
you say, okay, let’s give them just maybe one or two problems
here, you know, something that would be easy to deal with. You build
their confidence up a little bit that they can deal with it. But pretty
soon you get to the point where these are very expensive operations
we’re running here, several thousand dollars an hour to run
these simulations, even in those days. And you’ve got half the
team sitting around there twiddling their thumbs while two guys are
over here in sheer terror, you know, so you try to spread the wealth
a little. So you start looking for things to give everybody, so you
try to keep everybody busy, give them all something to do, while making
sure that it converges toward a solution that continues the mission.
That’s the way you do these things.
The training people really deserve a lot of credit for innovation
by being able to scheme these things and dream them up in ways that
accomplishes that objective without destroying the whole exercise.
Sometimes things don’t happen the way you think they do, though,
because the flight control team may respond differently than you thought
they were, and it screws the whole thing up. It may destroy the simulation.
But there’s a very worthwhile thing that goes on at the end
of those, these debriefings. I don’t know if you’re familiar
with how they debrief them over there, but after you do the run, you
do debriefing then. It’s kind of a confession session. Everybody
stands up and confesses to how he didn’t do it right, or whatever.
But the idea is that you sit down and you say, “Okay, we need
to do X number of launch exercises and maybe Y number of midcourse
corrections on an Apollo mission,” for example, and so many
entires covering the different cases that are involved. You add those
up, and they are always more than you have time to do, so then you
start prioritizing them.
So you sit down with the flight director, and they will decide, “Well,
okay, if we got to give up something, we’ll give up one over
here and two over here.” And you make it fit the schedule. You
go run those, and hopefully you’re okay. We haven’t slipped
any missions yet because of flight control team training. We haven’t
slipped any for crew training either. Well, there was one we slipped
one day, as I remember. I can’t remember which mission that
was, though. Somewhere in Gemini, I can’t remember, there was
one mission that was slipped one day, which probably wasn’t
worth it, in retrospect. Which is just another way of saying when
the hardware was ready to go, we launched. I mean we were, after all,
in this race to the Moon, you know, so people had to be ready to go.
How much did you feel that pressure on—obviously, you were trying
to meet the time schedule.
Yes, the competition.
Shelley: You know, we didn’t talk about it a lot per se, but
everybody knew that we were in something of a competition. But I think
all that did was made everyone more enthusiastic to get on with it.
Everybody thought, well, here we are, we’re doing something
important, you know, and we have a chance at this thing, anyway. We
didn’t know a lot about what the Russians were doing. I mean
every three months or so something would come out in the news. You
know, they’ve just launched something else, you know. In the
early days, it was always bigger than anything we had. But you didn’t
dwell on it.
I think maybe after Gemini when, hey, we beat those guys in learning
how to do rendezvous, and they never did master that very well. I
don’t know if you know, but even when we got around to doing
the Apollo-Soyuz Test Program and everything, we did all the rendezvous.
They didn’t do anything, which meant that they had to have a
much bigger rocket. I mean, that’s basically what it boiled
down to. The lunar orbit rendezvous activity, as I mentioned, is probably
one of the more significant things that happened in those years, because
a Saturn V now didn’t have to be quite as big as it would have
otherwise had to be. It’s still pretty big, of course. Of course,
in retrospect, what we found out is that was the approach the Russians
were originally taking and it didn’t work. But after Gemini,
I think people were feeling pretty good, pretty good.
Then the Apollo fire, of course, was devastating to everybody. But
after we got around to recovering from that and flying Apollo 7, everything
worked pretty well. You know Apollo 8, the story on that. That was
really a morale booster.
How much were you, in the simulations department, aware of the decision
for Apollo 8 beforehand and how did that affect your—
There were very few people that knew about that beforehand. Beforehand
wasn’t very long beforehand, in any case. They just decided
to do it, and we were just kind of told, “Guys, we’re
going to go do this, so go do what you can.” And that was it.
The history of that, of course, was the lunar module wasn’t
quite ready anyway for some of this stuff. But I remember we all thought
it was kind of crazy. I mean, you’re going to put this thing
in orbit with a single-point engine and expect to get back out? Boy,
that’s really sporty, which it was. But it worked, and after
it worked, people did get to feeling pretty good about things.
Then the lunar module finally was launched into Earth orbit and seemed
to work very well, reasonably well. Then, well, Apollo 10 could have
landed. It worked very well. Then Apollo 11. So Apollo really worked
amazingly well, up until 13, of course. But we didn’t dwell
on the fact that we were in a race or anything like that, but people
were just motivated to work on it.
The job itself is interesting enough, you know, just to keep you motivated,
and I think that’s mostly what happened. I don’t ever
remember anybody ever having to be given a pep talk to motivate them
to do their job. Everybody was doing their job, and everybody knew
everybody else expected them to do their job. It was just kind of
an environment. That’s the way it worked.
Talking about that environment, and you’ve mentioned working
as sim sup and the flight director would come together on some things,
but then, of course, on other times the flight controllers would almost
consider the simulations folks as scheming, which in a sense it was.
But what was that team environment like? How were the relations? And
tying in the astronauts and the crew and everything.
Very close, very close, yes, probably more so than they are today.
Fewer people, to begin with. Today you’ve got as many astronauts
today as we had, almost, whole people.
The crew tie-in with the ground controllers was close, but it was
certainly not as close as the relationship between the flight control
training team and the flight controllers, because we were all the
same people. At that time we were in different organizations. There
was a Flight Crew Operations Directorate and there was a Flight Operations
Directorate. The crew, of course, was over there.
But I don’t mean to say that people went off and defined these
exercises in a way that was designed to “gotcha”-type
things. They always had some purpose. I think if you read Kranz’s
book, he talks about his experiences with Koos on the program alarm
simulations, you know. That was the case where Koos and his team of
people just said, “Hey, guys, this is some stuff that we haven’t
done yet, you know. We just didn’t get around to getting everything
done, and it happened late in the flow.” But that’s a
good example, of course, of having guessed really correctly about
a problem that could occur, that did occur, and that probably saved
a mission, because had Steve [Stephen G.] Bales seen those program
alarms for the first time during the flight, he would have probably
called an abort. That’s what his procedures told him to do.
But there was a lot of discussion that went on. The systems guys and
the training organizations spent a lot of time with the systems controllers.
The whole idea was to know as much as you could about what they were
doing, and when you had some idea that was constructive to them, you
would go tell them about it. They would fold it into their procedures
and everything. So it was a close relationship, very close, and very
productive one, too.
The other thing that occurred in those days, all the contractors were
on site. They were scattered up and down the hallway just like everybody
else. People didn’t notice badges. It was a badgeless society.
So that was very good. Today we tend to read contracts. You’re
responsible for that, you go do that. In those days, it was a matter
of which controller is the smartest guy in a particular area and who
can contribute the most to the overall understanding of this problem.
So it was a different operation. That was before the procurement people
and NASA policy dictated separation of contractors and civil servants.
So it was a good exercise.
By that time I was head of the Mission Simulation Branch in ’68
or so, I guess. I stayed there through Apollo 12. Apollo 12 was the
last Apollo mission that I had anything to do with, which maybe was
fortunate that I got out before 13. Maybe not.
We were beginning to start Skylab activities, and Skylab was a new
animal. It was to be a user-driven operation, not an exploration-type
thing. We had done some science experiments on Apollo, most of them
later. They were planned to be done on later flights. At this time
we hadn’t done them yet. Things like the Apollo lunar surface
experiments package, ALSEP, and there were going to be some what we
called SIMBE, scientific instrument module-based experiments that
were going to be flown.
But, anyway, Skylab had a whole bunch of experiments. Kranz asked
me to go set up an experiments branch that would set up the operation
for Skylab, most of the Skylab experiments. At the time, we were primarily
concerned with medical experiments. There was something called the
Apollo Telescope Mount [ATM], which was a solar observatory that was
on this thing. We had a bunch of other things that were sort of filler
or catchall experiments. We called them corollary experiments. Later
there was something called the Earth Resources Experiments Package
[EREP] was mounted onboard the Skylab.
So the idea was, okay, we’re going to have all these visiting
scientists in here, so how are we going to operate this new space
station with those guys and make sure they are participating in the
way they want to participate and yet don’t allow them to get
dangerous? There’s that kind of thing. So I had the job of going
off and doing that. As it turned out, we ended up splitting, because
the workload was just too big for one branch, we split the Earth Resources
activity out, and I was concerned about the other three, the medical,
the solar physics, and the corollaries, if you will.
The medical guys, they were sort of easy to deal with because they
had top priority. They had the protocol that they had established
to conduct this battery of experiments every three days throughout
the duration of the mission. The whole idea, of course, was we’re
going to go for thirty days, and we’ll look at that data, and
if it’s safe, we’ll go for sixty, and if that’s
okay, then we’ll go for ninety on the third increment. So they
sort of had free rein to plug their things into the timelines where
they needed to occur and everything. So they were happy and they were
always kind of easy.
Plus the fact, most of them were not around here. We had what is now
the Space and Life Sciences Directorate, had surrogate representatives
in it, so we could work directly with them, and we did. That all worked
The solar guys, though, boy, they were some high-powered guys, and
they didn’t know anything about the Johnson Space Center and
really couldn’t care less about the Johnson Space Center. They’d
rather be off doing this thing themselves. I suffered through more
than one speech from those guys on how JSC didn’t appreciate
them and how they weren’t getting all that they wanted, and
of course they always wanted more than they’d get.
But they had some fairly powerful people on there. There was one old
gentleman, I know, a Dr. [Richard L.] Tousey from Naval Research Lab,
very prominent X-ray astronomer. I remember one day he called the
Secretary of the Navy in my office, and the guy took his phone call.
I said, “We have to deal with these guys.” But Dr. Tousey,
he was an elderly gentleman even then, and he had a hearing aid.
They wanted to have routine access to the crew, voice access to the
crew. Well, the crew wasn’t too keen on having all these undisciplined
scientists calling them all the time. “No, we want you to talk
through the capcoms.” But I remember this ultimately culminated
in a big meeting with Kranz and several guys one day about whether
or not they were going to be allowed to talk to the crew. So we finally
ended up, Gene made the decision, “Well, okay, you can talk
to the crew. We’ll set up this teleconference for you once a
week. We’ll let you summarize the activities for the week.”
So I was walking back—we were in Building 45 at the time—walking
back with Dr. Tousey. I said, “Well, Dr. Tousey, how do you
feel? You’ve been given the okay to talk to the crew. How do
you feel about that?’
He says, “I don’t want to talk to the crew.”
I said, “Excuse me?”
He said, “No, that static just screws up my hearing aid. I don’t
want to talk to them. I didn’t want anybody to tell me I couldn’t
do it.” And he never did talk to them. He never did. Later on,
he had some of his people talk to them, but he never did. He wanted
his way. They were very good people. They were very motivated. Of
course, they had invested a lot of their lives in this solar observatory,
and these were the principal investigators.
We had a Dr. [Edmond M.] Reeves from Harvard and Dr. Tousey from NRL.
I remember Dr. [Robert M.] MacQueen from the High Altitude Observatory
and Dr. Gianconi from American Science and Engineering. I don’t
know if you know him. Gianconi is the Hubble guy today, from the Hubble
Science Institute, among other things. But those people all started
on Skylab, were down here on Skylab. So we had that contingent of
people who had solar objectives in mind, and these medical guys over
here who had all this medical stuff they wanted to do, and then we
had these catchall guys who some were observatory-type guys. They
had these instruments that would go in the scientific airlock that
would either look at stars or whatever they wanted to look at. So
we had a number of those.
Then we had this Earth Resources contingent. The EREP package was
a problem for us because it required us to orient the Skylab into
what’s called Z-local vertical attitude, so it could look at
the Earth. All those instruments were looking down. The solar instruments,
of course, wanted to be in solar inertial. They wanted to be looking
at the sun all the time. So they were totally mutually incompatible.
In retrospect, a bad design, but, anyway, that’s the way it
So we had to debate all the time who was going to get what. So we
ended up, well, the medical guys had top program priorities, because
they went every three days anyway. The solar observing guys were mostly
concerned about crew time availability and the solar inertial attitude.
The Earth Resources guys wanted to look at all these ground sites
that had been defined for them to take passes over. How do you decide
who gets priorities?
So we ended up with this thing called a program scientist, our first
program scientist. We talked to Bob [Robert A. R.] Parker. I don’t
know if you know Dr. Parker, the astronaut. Well, he was the first
one. Probably never forgive us, but he was the mediator we talked
into working with these guys. And even within those groups and within
those disciplines, for example, within those solar scientist discipline,
there were five of those guys, and they were all from different organizations
like Harvard. Neither trusted the other. There was a lot of professional
jealousy among those guys. So we dreamed up this thing called a czar-for-a-day
concept, and we rotated chairmanship of the planning team among them.
Every fifth day, you get to be the boss. So if that guy doesn’t
do well by you today, you can get him back tomorrow, you know. It
worked amazingly well every day.
We told them, we said, “Look,” I don’t remember
the exact times now, but said “At six o’clock tonight,
you pass the solution out from under the door, and we’ll go
implement it. If you don’t pass one out, we’ll build one
for you.” But we never had a problem with them. They worked
fine. They worked great.
We built the first Payload Ops Control Center in those days, POCCs.
Maybe you’ve heard of those. We built the first ones over here
in Building 30. We had one for the ATM guys, one for the medical people,
and there was one for the Earth Resources people. So that’s
how that all got started.
Of course, before we started flying, we had done a lot of preparation
activity. We had brought people in from mostly Ball Brothers, who
had built most of the major experiments, had a lot of people here
that we used to build this informational database, do the procedures,
train the crews, do all that stuff. We had done our normal flight
control job on Skylab in that sense, and it worked very well.
I think if you go look today, the medical database gathered off Skylab
is still probably the best one. Now, we flew a Spacelab here on Shuttle
for a week or so that added quite a bit to it, but there was no long-duration
stuff on that. The Russian stuff, they never took too much data in
their long-duration things. Maybe the [Shuttle-]Mir [International
Space Station] Phase 1 stuff we did has supplemented that somewhat,
but for a long time, Skylab was the defining database for medical
effects of space flight.
Same kind of thing with the solar physics activity. We had a lot of
difficulty with the solar physics thing, because when it was proposed
to be flown, it would have been flown like in ’68, which is
a solar maximum. Do you know what I mean by a solar maximum, solar
minimums, those kind of things? Yes, the sun’s on an eleven-year
cycle of sunspot activity and everything. Well, we ended up flying
at a solar minimum, because we flew in ’73. So they weren’t
terribly happy with that fact, but given that that was what they were
going to get, they made the best of it. And we did have a few flares
anyway that they were able to get, so they were pretty happy with
So that took us through Skylab. We ended up, as you know, I think
we flew thirty days, fifty-seven days, and eighty-one. Is that it?
Maybe eighty-four, something like that.
During the missions, were you still coordinating some of this activity?
Actually, that’s another thing we did during the mission. During
Apollo and Gemini, we had something called SPAN rooms, Spacecraft
Performance Analysis rooms, and through which we would access the
development activities. If we needed to ask the contractors questions,
we worked through the SPAN rooms. Well, Skylab, we had to invent this
new animal to replace all that. It was called a FOMR, Flight Operations
Management Room. We did that because Skylab was basically a Marshall
[Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Alabama] program. We flew it at
Johnson, but Marshall built it. So we had to develop this management
room that properly integrated all the Marshall people down here.
We had the Johnson guys. There was a Johnson Skylab Program Office,
also, and we had them in here. Of course, we were in MOD [Mission
Operations Directorate], so we were the big mediator of these two
program offices. I had the job of defining what the flight ops management
room was going to be. That was a job I personally had to do, along
with Joe [Jones W.] Roach, who was in the division at that time. He
was Kranz’s deputy at the time.
So we sort of planned this thing out and laid it out. So I worked
the entire mission in this flight ops management room. It was interesting.
A lot of the priority debates ended up in there for resolution, you
know, and all the questions relative to system support always came
through there that we ever had to ship [back] to Marshall or ship
wherever it needed to go to get answers to it.
Let’s see. Who all was in there, I guess, at the time? You probably
don’t remember these guys, but the Marshall people brought George
[B.] Hardy and Luther Powell and Dan [Daniel M.] Germany, who later
moved to JSC as the Orbiter project manager, were in there. Jay [F.]
Honeycutt was in there with us. Jay had worked for me in training
before. He was in the old Training Simulation Branch. Joe Roach and
Mel [Melvin F.] Brooks were the principal people.
That all seemed to work very well. I don’t remember any major
difficulties that came out of that. I do remember that we did have
a problem with personal things. Kranz dreamed up this really weird
shifting arrangement. What we would do is we would work five days
and you’d be off two. Then you’d come back eight hours,
shifted from where you had left off, and you’d work five days
and you’d come back eight hours shifted from where you had left
off, so you never got used to any shifting activity. My body felt
like I was going to die the whole time, I think. And everybody had
the same problem. But that’s the way we did it. It equalized
the misery. Well, the idea was we would equalize all the graveyard
shifting and everything for everybody. But I think most of us would
have volunteered for a permanent graveyard shift.
So the folks in the FOMR worked the same shifts as the—
Oh, yes, we worked the same shifts as the flight control team. Anyway,
the shifting was a problem. I think we had like 10-percent divorce
rates in Skylab. That’s serious. But we survived it somehow.
During that time, were you also involved with any discussions between—well,
you had mentioned any issues would come through there, especially
on the last Skylab mission when there was some problems getting everything
integrated between the ground and the crew, that people were working
at a different pace. Did it come at all through your area?
Yes, we talked about that stuff a lot, you know. What we ended up
doing, basically, was saying, “Well, look, why don’t we
just give you guys a shopping list, and you go work on what you need
to do.” The ground has a tendency to overplan the crew’s
activities. I say that, having been responsible for crew activity
planning and a lot of that stuff. But you really need to take advantage
of the crew’s ability to control his own work pace and do the
right things every now and then. That turned out to be the way a lot
of the issues got resolved on the longer duration Skylab missions.
That was particularly true with something like the solar observatory
activity. We had these things called joint observing programs, which
were big long sequences of precanned camera operations. We were flying
people, Owen [K.] Garriott, in particular on the first mission, was
smarter than most of those scientists on what you want to look at
anyway. Ed [Edward G.] Gibson, later, was the same kind of thing.
So you didn’t need to tell them what to do. Just tell them I’m
interested. “Look at what’s interesting up there, Ed,”
or whatever. And we did a lot of that later on, let them decide what
to look at.
It was the same with all the other activities. I said, “Look,
guys, you know what you’ve got to do. Here’s twenty-five
things you got to get done next week. Go work on them, and call us
up in a couple days and tell us how many of them you’ve done,
so we’ll know where we are.” The guys who don’t
like that, and the problem with that, are the scientists who travel
halfway around the world to be here when his experiment is going to
be conducted, and he doesn’t know when it’s going to be
conducted. See, that’s the problem you get into. But we soothed
their ruffled feathers, and they learned to live with that. As long
as they got their data, they were okay.
Actually, we had very good relationships with the scientists on Skylab,
I think. I don’t ever recall an incidence. We had a lot of discussions,
a lot of debates, you know, what we were going to do, what we could
do and couldn’t do. I remember, I guess this was again with
Dr. Tousey and Dr. Reeves and those guys, floor space was really critical
in the control center in those days. They had come down here and were
expecting that we would put them up in nice offices, you know, in
the control center. And we didn’t have it.
I got this phone call one day from John [E.] Naugle, who was the AA
[Assistant Administrator] for science in Washington [D.C.]. He says,
“I understand that my scientists are not real happy down there
with what you guys are doing facility-wise for them.” I didn’t
know John Naugle. He didn’t know me. I mean here I was a branch
chief. My god, the AA was calling me direct on this stuff. What is
I said, “Yes, sir.”
He says, “Well, I’m coming down there next week. I want
to see what you’re doing.” Oh, boy. But he did, he came
down. He looked over the situation, and I briefed him on what the
situation was and everything. All he said is, “Well,”
he says, “it looks like you’re doing about as good as
you can with what you’ve got. So I’ll see what I can do.”
The next week he rented the building across the street, which was
walnut upholstered walls and everything. So we took care of them,
but that’s the only time we ever had any issue with them, was
over the accommodations here. It’s a status thing with those
guys, you know.
I don’t know how well you know Gene Kranz, but that didn’t
cut it with him. He controlled the floor space. For me to get more
floor space, I’d have to go convince Kranz, “Hey, you
need to give it to my scientists, you know, and take it away from
some systems flight control over there.” That wasn’t going
to happen. So we had those kind of issues, but by and large, at the
end when it was all over and said and done, everybody was very happy,
very pleased, seemed to me.
At the end of Skylab, of course, Johnson Space Center is sitting here.
Man, we’ve just gone to the Moon, we’ve got this big operations
organization, we’ve done Skylab, what do we do now? The decision
was made, while the ops organizations are too big relative to what
we have to do for the next four or five years, you know, so everything
got reorganized. Dr. Kraft was [Johnson Space] Center Director by
this time. The decision was made to merge the Flight Crew Operations
Directorate and the Flight Operations Directorate. So that was done.
In fact, parts of the Flight Crew Operations Directorate were actually
transferred over to E&D [Engineering and Development Directorate],
parts associated with the crew systems mockups, the 1-G mockups, and
those kinds of things.
Kenny [Kenneth S.] Kleinknecht, who had had a number of responsible
jobs around the center, was made head of flight operations, and Gene
Kranz was his deputy. They decided that I should go work over in the
flight crew operations people in the Crew Training and Procedures
Division, because we were trying to cross-pollinate everybody. Jim
[James W.] Bilodeau was running that division. It was a new division.
Jim had been division chief of the Crew Procedures Division, but it
was going to be merged now with this Crew Training and Procedures
Division, because we were joining up, organizationally-wise, anyway.
So they wanted me to go over and be Jim’s deputy. So I ended
up over in Crew Training and Procedures Division. Jim was a character.
He’s a good engineer. He had to be. He was a structures engineer,
had come down from what was the old Chance Vought Company up in Dallas.
Of course, he’d been there several years then. I don’t
remember quite how many. But Jim was very much a hands-off manager.
Of course, Kranz is very much a hands-on guy.
I never will forget. I went over to talk to him, and he told me, he
says, “Well, I guess you’ve been sent over here to make
sure I toe the line to meet Kranz’s requirements and everything.”
But he says, “The way we are going to work this, all those action
items that he’s prone to generate,” he says, “you’re
going to get to work them all.” And he was right. He never worked
a single one of Kranz’s actions. I had to work them all.
But, anyway, Kranz had some of us over there to bring some flight
control people over into that world. I had brought Jay Honeycutt and
a guy named Phil [Philip C.] Shaffer, who had been a flight director,
and John [A.] Wegener. We brought them in. Tommy Holloway was already
there as one branch chief. Dave [David C.] Schultz, who’s retired
from NASA about three or four years ago, was the other branch chief.
And Honeycutt was branch chief. So that was our team on Crew Training
We had two major jobs to do, two major programs to work on there.
They decided the Apollo-Soyuz Program was ready to go fly. It was
going to be flying in ’75, which was eighteen months away. We
also were starting to work Shuttle. In those days, Shuttle had something
called approach and landing tests [ALT] that were going to be flown
in 1977, ’76, ’77, so we had to build a simulator to train
the crew on how to fly the Shuttle. What we ended up building was,
of course, the moving base [simulator]. If you’re familiar with
the Shuttle mission simulator over here now, the moving base is what
we built at that time to do that job.
The Apollo-Soyuz [Test Project, ASTP] thing wasn’t much of a
technical challenge or anything. They had to go build a docking module,
you know, with the Russians, or a docking ring. But as far as the
operation, it was pretty simple. I mean, it was a pretty simple rendezvous.
As I said earlier, the Russian vehicle was a passive vehicle, so we
were going to do all the maneuvering, the active maneuvering and everything,
and we knew how to do that.
Anyway, the Russians don’t speak very good English, and the
way the Center decided to work the Apollo-Soyuz thing was to create
just a small team of people to go off and work with them. Glynn Lunney
headed up that aspect of it. Tommy Holloway, we put him on it, as
our guy. They basically took care of Apollo-Soyuz. They just took
it and ran with it. So we didn’t have to worry about that so
So I spent most of my time worrying about getting ready for Shuttle
in those days. We did go out. We let a contract to Singer-Link to
build the front end of the Shuttle mission simulator, which we called
it the OAS, Orbiter Aeroflight Simulator, in those days. We bought
the computer system separately to drive it. We went through all those
same old things of defining the models and defining the telemetry
and everything. By this time we had to work it from in depth for the
crew as well as the control team.
In fact, the flight control team, Don [Donald R.] Puddy, was asked
to head up a group of people that were going to provide the flight
control support to the ALT and, of course, Fred [W.] Haise and Joe
[H.] Engle. Who else was there? Fred and Joe, I guess. So they sort
of took care of the mission planning for that thing, too.
In the meantime, the rest of us—you need to remember, in those
days Shuttle was going to fly sixty times a year. Remember, we had
sold that thing on the idea that it was going to be very routine to
fly this thing. My job was, well, how in the world are you going to
get enough astronauts through this pipe to fly that many flights.
How many flights a year can an astronaut fly, for example? Nobody
knew. We finally concluded, well, under the best conditions, maybe
we could get him through four. So you go through the numbers and the
training requirements and everything, and that turns out to be a certain
sized astronaut cadre that you needed and all of them had to be trained.
So we were trying to put together a plan for what the training program
There was a new technique. Well, I don’t know how new it was,
but at that time it was pretty much in vogue to use something called
a systems approach to training, which was nothing more than some of
the training experts, I think, had finally decided what systems engineering
was. So they applied systems engineering techniques to the training
problem. We did a lot of work in trying to define, well, okay, how
much of this information does an astronaut really need to go fly,
as opposed to how much does he want to go fly. Astronauts want to
know everything they should probably know. But that’s very expensive
and takes a lot of effort to do that.
So we were busy working this systems approach to training, in which
we were trying to evaluate on a task-by-task basis everything that
was involved in flying the Shuttle, and to define the minimum training
program that you could get away with to do that. So we spent a lot
of time doing that. In fact, we ended up defining the training program
that is pretty much intact still there today for the basic Shuttle
We also, in this time, went ahead and bought the other half of the
Shuttle Mission Simulator, the fixed base simulator. We had that.
The other thing we were doing is, it may surprise you to know that
the Shuttle didn’t come with any operating instructions. Rockwell
never told us how to fly it, so we had to write the procedures on
how to fly the Shuttle. We had a procedure simulator, an SPS over
there, Shuttle Procedures Simulator, that we used to develop flying
procedures for the Shuttle. They didn’t give us systems procedures
either. We’d had money problems, and we couldn’t afford
to buy all those things, which is one reason why we brought these
flight control experienced people over into the Crew Training and
Procedures Division, because we knew we were going to have to write
these systems operating procedures for the Orbiter.
So we spent a lot of time doing those kinds of things, and we involved
a lot of the flight control people as well as people in the Training
and Procedures Division to do this. Given that we were going to fly
like in ’79, so ’75, ’76, and ’77, up in those
timeframes, we were very busy trying to define how you fly a Shuttle.
All the time we were trying to define how they’re flying it,
people like Fred Haise is over scrubbing the software, trying to figure
out how you can build it cheaper, and get things out of it. So it
was pretty much of a hit-and-miss-type thing. It was dynamic, I’ll
put it that way.
Of course, the two major things that people were really concerned
about on the Shuttle didn’t really affect the training so much,
but it was the thermal protection system and the main engines. Those
are the things that ended up causing us to slip, you know, a couple
of years or so, but they didn’t really affect our training so
much. It turned out to be fortunate that we had the two-year grace
period in there, because we could not get the simulator to work. That
thing didn’t work, and it didn’t work, and it didn’t
work, you know. We had a lot of trouble with it.
In fact, even on STS-1, the first flight, we had a lot of difficulty.
We could fly it and do the launch and the ascents and everything would
be okay, but we couldn’t fly it into orbit. We’d have
to reset it into orbit, start the orbit phase. We had a lot of trouble
with the simulators. Even though we put a lot of money on it, we ended
up supplementing the Link contract. I don’t know, seems like
we had about 500 people working on it over there.
But the Shuttle Mission Simulator is a complicated bear. I don’t
know if you’re familiar with it. At the time, it was probably
the biggest computer system on site. We had trouble with everything
from the stability, and it also had flight computers in it, remember.
Incidentally, some of the problems we had were with the flight software,
too. It wasn’t simulator stuff, but we found a lot of problems
in the flight software using the Shuttle Mission Simulator, and that’s
because that’s where the crew interacts with it. The software
people didn’t have a way of really having a lot of good crew
interaction with their software until it hit the simulator. So that
simulator served a major role in helping to check out the onboard
It’s had stability problems from day one, in those days. It
was a very complicated thing. We had light valve problems. You know
the visual system that’s in there? We also had problems with
the light valves that drive those visual images. John [W.] Young and
Crip [Robert L. Crippen] and those guys who flew the earlier missions,
they probably wondered whether or not they were being positively or
negatively trained. I don’t know. [Laughter] But we had a lot
of trouble with it. But, finally, today I guess it’s pretty
stable over there. I don’t hear too much about it. But that
was the Shuttle simulator.
Butler: If we could pause here for a moment, change out the tape,
and take a brief break. [Tape Change.]
You were mentioning coming from Skylab, working into Shuttle, and
that was your main focus rather than Apollo-Soyuz, building first
the motion simulator and then into the fixed-base simulator and the
systems simulators. All of this was coming in time while Shuttle was
still being developed and being worked on. How did you tie in? Again,
you’re in kind of a similar situation as to before.
We went over and made a deal with Bob [Robert F.] Thompson, who was
the Shuttle program manager. Normally, what we would have done is
we would have paid Rockwell to supply us with the information. Certainly,
as it relates to building the simulator, they would provide all the
internal change traffic that was internal to Rockwell, in this case.
That would have been fed to us as soon as it was available, and we
would use that within Singer-Link to develop the various systems and
things, configuration control and the simulator.
We didn’t have a lot of money. The program never had a lot of
money, but we did have enough so that we could buy one guy in the
plant who did nothing but go around and find information that he fed
out. We also made this deal with the program manager that MOD, the
number sticks in my mind, it seems like it was nineteen people, nineteen
or twenty Rockwell employees that had been in MOD through Skylab,
and we wanted to keep them because they were experienced people, of
course. Basically what was decided was, okay, you can keep those guys,
but you’ve got to write the Shuttle procedures in-house. That’s
basically how we ended up having to do that.
So we had the feed from in-plant on what the hardware was, and it
was more than just change traffic. He’d go round up drawings
and whatever technical information he could locate. We’d ship
that down to these nineteen people, and they were primarily the interface
back to the plant. Then they would spread it out throughout the organization.
That way we would get information on what was being built.
That was a better path, frankly, than the program path, because the
program path’s too slow. The change traffic and everything might
get approved there, and you’d say, “Okay, I know they’re
going to build that thing up there.” But if you asked the guy,
“Well, what is it exactly, today?” he doesn’t know.
You have to go ask Rockwell. And we had a straight path to kind of
minimize the time delays. But that’s how we did it. It was scrounging.
That’s what it was. But that’s the way it had always been.
You have to go scrounging. If you build simulators, you have to scrounge
a lot of information, because it’s generally not available at
the time you want it. But that’s how we did it. Some of those
guys are still over there today. Well, they’re most in USA [United
Space Alliance]. But some of them have a rich history of being scroungers.
A very important task.
It is important. It’s good that they could do that.
Were there often any major changes that hadn’t exactly been
anticipated or that affected many different systems?
Because we’d have to restart?
No, I don’t remember any that caused major changes. We changed
out the main engine models that came from Marshall. There were some
major changes of those, but they came as a block to us. We just had
to integrate them in. They didn’t affect a whole lot of things
other than just the vehicle performance, you know. I don’t recall
anything that was a major surprise to us or a major redesign of the
Shuttle or anything. No, it was just bad from day one.
Butler: The Shuttle is obviously a very different system than had
been used before in Gemini, Apollo, very different than Skylab. You
had even mentioned that originally you were planning for all these
flights per year and trying to figure out, okay, how much could the
astronauts be used. How did that transition between all of those programs
occur, and then the transition to Shuttle being a little bit less
Well, I think in the beginning, we were not successful in making Shuttle
a little bit less. The early crews on Shuttle basically got as much
training as previous crews on other earlier missions. I think that
even today—well, I don’t know this, but I would suspect
that if I walked over through the Training Division, they’re
still trying to figure out how to reduce Shuttle training. I know
we did for the first three or four years, anyway.
So it wasn’t a step function to go from where we had been doing
business to a new way of doing business in terms of “This is
maybe something you’re interested in knowing, but we’re
not going to tell you about it because you don’t need to know
it.” We didn’t do that. We filled up all the available
time with information.
The other thing, of course, that happened was that the flight rate
didn’t go to sixty a year. It’s considerably less than
that, and we never had the number of astronauts that would have been
required for sixty flights a year. The other thing is, of course,
the Shuttle crews are specialized. I mean there are specialties among
the crew. The commander and the pilot do certain things, the mission
specialist who rides the jump seat does certain things, limited things,
and somebody else worries about the manipulator operation, somebody
else worries about the payload activation, and the mid-deck stuff
is still again something different. So everybody doesn’t get
trained on everything.
EVA is a good case in point. There used to be just a cadre of people
who were trained on EVA, but everybody doesn’t get trained on
EVA because it’s too expensive. Largely, you can’t do
it because there never was enough time available. The productivity
of the water facility is just not large enough to train a lot of people
on EVA. So it’s a combination of things like that. So you specialize
The other thing you do is we have to worry about reconfiguration for
payloads and everything. The Shuttle simulator was built with a generic
math model, if you will, in there that could be initialized to look
like certain kinds of payloads. The visual systems were built so they
could be more readily initialized to reflect out-the-window views
for the payloads, things like that. So it’s just a series of
things that were done to make the whole operation a little more efficient.
The Shuttle Mission Simulator uses the flight software. You don’t
have to go through a conversion process. You just take a data tape
from the Software Development Lab and you just take it in and you
load it. Theoretically, it works. And it works. I mean, obviously,
we use it all the time.
So there were a lot of innovations put into the Shuttle simulator
that made it tough to work in the early days, but it works pretty
well now, apparently. People tell me it’s stable. I haven’t
worked in training for twenty years, so I don’t really know.
But it seems to be working okay. Today, the whole operation, I believe,
is contracted to USA. I mean there are no civil servants involved
in training astronauts, not Shuttle astronauts, anyway. So it seems
to be working pretty well. Now they have probably changed the computers
two or three times since then, and who knows what else has been changed.
Speaking of the computers, when you had started with Gemini, moving
up through the early times of Shuttle, not even up through today,
but when you were working in it, computers changed drastically in
that timeframe. How much did that help, and yet did it also in some
ways cause problems for the simulations and the training and procedures?
I think every time they changed, it helped. We didn’t have a
whole lot of computing power in those early simulators and things.
So the more power you can put in there, the better off you are. You
can now make more of those parameters dynamic, we were talking about
earlier, as opposed to static. You can take men—we used to actually
have people that would sit on the output side of the simulators, something
called a telemetry monitoring console, and he would actually tweak
the data stream manually with potentiometers and switches and things
like that that was coming over the control center. Well, you can imagine
what kind of job that was. Anyway, with more computer power, you didn’t
need to do that sort of stuff anymore. Computers take care of all
of that, so it made it better. The Shuttle simulator, fortunately,
even in those days was capable of getting rid of that aspect of tweaking.
I don’t know exactly what kind of computers they have in the
thing right now. Of course, the flight computers are still the same.
They’ve been upgraded in the Orbiter, and I’m sure they
were changed in the simulator, too, but the host computer or the environmental
computer in the SMS, I assume, used to be an 1100-something, 1180.
I’m not sure what’s in there now, but it’s a big
computer. So they’ve got plenty of computing power and they’re
doing okay. I think it improved, helped them quite a bit.
Let’s see. Shuttle. I worked on Shuttle maybe two years, maybe
the first two years’ worth, and then it was decided that we
would split back out the Flight Crew Ops Directorate and the Mission
Operations Directorate. Prior to that time, Kenny Kleinknecht had
moved on to other things, and Mr. [George W. S.] Abbey had been made
the Director of Flight Operations. So the split occurred after George
had been made the Director of Flight Operations. George took the crew
office and the Aircraft Operations Division, and that was really what
is today the Flight Crew Operations Directorate. Everything else was
given to Kranz.
Shortly thereafter, the intent, even at that time, was to merge what
was called the old Data Systems Analysis Directorate with the MOD,
which would mean things like the Mission Planning and Analysis Division
[MPAD] would be coming into MOD. But, anyway, Kranz was made the Director
of MOD, and he picked me to come up and be his deputy, so I moved
up there. That was in like ’83, I think, or somewhere along
in there. So I worked up there for a couple years, where my job was
basically one of helping him develop the overall directorate management
plans and keeping things running while he went off and played games
with the control center. He wanted somebody to keep the office going,
keep things moving. That’s mostly what I did, because by this
time I had worked Flight Control Division, I had worked experiment
operations, I had worked training, I had worked crew training, I had
worked flight planning, I had worked everything in MOD. So I knew
a little bit about everything and not much about anything, I suppose.
But, anyway, so he thought that I should be his deputy, and so that
Did you have much direct involvement with any of the missions during
About as much as anybody did at the directorate levels. We were always
reviewing the status of what was going on. There’s an environment
in MOD, though, that you need to understand that was very prevalent
in those days. The idea is to give a person the job and let him run
with it. It was very common for very young people to be told to go
over and brief the program manager on this system. You did the work
on it, you’re the expert, and you get the credit, you run with
So MOD didn’t have a culture that required a lot of detailed
oversight from above. I mean people were expected to go do their job,
and they got support from the directorate level even when they were
wrong. But we felt it was better to let those people know that we
supported them and let them go charge the mountain. I think if you
look at all the people who came out of MOD that have gone on to other
jobs around the center and everything and even within the agency,
there have been some pretty good people growing up over there.
A lot of it derives from the environment that you’re thrown
into, and I don’t want to say it’s a sink-or-swim thing.
It’s not that. But it is very much an environment where you
can control a lot of your own destiny. You get to do your own thing
within the confines of the job you’ve been given, but some manager
doesn’t go present your work for you. You get to go do it. And
it helps a lot.
So, anyway, we didn’t ride herd on people from the directorate
level. Periodically, you would have them do a show and tell, if you
will, just to convince yourself that everything’s still okay.
But by and large, most of the activity that I was involved with was
everything from making sure the budgets were right, that the manpower
levels were properly allocated and assigned, and that we have some
way of testing or checking how well they’re being used.
You may have heard of Marvin Manpower. Have you heard of that term?
Well, we had to invent Marvin Manpower to do a lot of that stuff in
those days. Gene was always a stickler for having detailed information
on how people were spending their time, not because he didn’t
trust them, but because he was used it on program managers to argue
for manpower. I mean who could argue with a book that thick on “Here’s
how I spent my time”? Nobody had any data to challenge that,
so we won more arguments with that stuff.
But, no, we didn’t work missions per se because we had a flight
director office by this time that did all the flight directoring,
and the divisions were set up so that they had their functions. We
had the Flight Control Division. We actually had a Crew Training Division
and a Flight Planning Division by this time. So they were all broken
out. They had their jobs to do, they knew how to do them, and as long
as things were happening, everything was okay. It was actually a pretty
well-run organization, in retrospect.
So that went on for a couple years or so. About this time, Space Station
was beginning to happen. Al [Allen J.] Louviere—I don’t
know if you remember Al. Do you know Al Louviere?
Al Louviere was the individual in engineering who was responsible
for the early work on Space Station definition here at JSC in ’81,
‘82 somewhere in that time frame, he and a guy named Jerry [W.]
Craig, but mostly in this case it was Al Louviere. He had a group
of people out over there behind the astronaut gym, about forty people,
and they were conceptualizing space stations, you know, more how to
manage them than anything else. So that was going on, and he wanted
a couple of guys from MOD to support him out there. We sent Dick [Richard
A.] Thorson, I think, out there for a while, maybe a couple others.
Actually, I think Hal [Harold A.] Loden. I don’t remember now
who was over there. But that was the only involvement we had on Space
Then it had gone through the Phase A definition and activity up in
Washington, and John Hodge had come back to NASA and had headed up
that activity in Washington. So the Space Station was looking like
it was going to happen, but we had to go do these definition Phase
B studies. Anyway, big debate was who’s going to manage the
Space Station. Now, “who” being which center, Marshall
or Johnson or Goddard [Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland] or
just who, you know.
To be honest with you, Hodge had left here somewhat in a huff because
he had thought he was going to be Shuttle program manager, and Kraft
didn’t make him the Shuttle program manager. But he had gone
off to work for what initially was the Electronic Research Center
within NASA, which was in Cambridge, Massachusetts. That had gone
defunct and had been taken over by the Department of Transportation.
Anyway, Hodge had been up there, but now he’s back to NASA and
in charge of Space Station in Washington. So he is not real keen on
JSC managing the Space Station, not because I suppose he has a real
problem with JSC, but about this time we are having a lot of criticism
on how we are running the Shuttle Program, utilization, the users.
The users are complaining. They don’t like all this big long
red tape to get onboard the Shuttle. So the problem is that Station
is going to be the ultimate user-oriented vehicle, “So we don’t
want those Shuttle guys defining how we’re going to run a Space
Station.” That was the prevailing thought.
Anyway, this big debate’s going on with the center directors
about how we’re going to do this business, and they can’t
decide, because Johnson clearly is the place that had all the systems
engineering capability that you need to build the Space Station with,
Goddard has the reputation for being the most friendly user organization
to operate Space Station. So what are you going to do? Are you going
to split the program and have half of it run from Goddard and half
of it from Johnson or what are you going to do? It was a mess.
Anyway, to make a long story short, a guy named Bill Keathly had been
the ATM project manager at Marshall when I was flying the thing over
here for them, and he had since gone on to Goddard to be the director
of all flight projects at Goddard. So he comes up with the brilliant
idea that, “Well, we don’t want the Shuttle Program guys
running the Space Station thing, but why don’t you guys send
Shelley over there to the Space Station office to do the customer
integration and Goddard will back off.” So I was sacrificed,
if you will, basically.
Gerry [Gerald D.] Griffin, who was the center director, jumped on
that. I was told, “You need to go work on Space Station.”
At the time, I was doing this STSOC [STS Operations] Contract. STSOC
is the contract that RSOC [Rockwell Space Operation Company] had for
MOD, big contract. We were consolidating all these eighteen different
contracts back in ’84 to form the STSOC contract. Jim [James
C.] Stokes [Jr.] and I were the only people that had been working
on that, and Stokes was retiring, and so I was the only guy. I told
Kranz, I said, “What do you know about me going to work on Space
He said, “Well, you’re not going anywhere on Space Station.
What is this noise?”
I had found out about it because Keathly had called me up and said,
“I want to congratulate you on your new job.”
I said, “What new job?”
He said, “Oh, I’ve screwed up. You need to call your center
director.” But I didn’t have to, because he called me
in about fifteen minutes later.
But, anyway, so I got pulled off the STSOC thing to go work on Space
Station for six months. I was going to be free to come back then,
but you know how that works. So I got over there, and that’s
how I got in the Customer Integration Office business on Space Station.
That turned out to be an interesting job, very satisfying job, because
what it was, what I was supposed to do was to go find out what does
this mysterious thing called the using community want in the way of
a space station. What does a space station look like? In those days,
we didn’t know. What would these users want it to look like?
What kind of capabilities should it have? All those things.
So we go off, and all I knew, all I was told was, well, okay, we know
we’ve got a bunch of scientists. We know we’ve got to
go find out what they want. We want this thing to appeal to the technologists
also, so we’ve got to go find somebody to work the technology-type
demonstration projects on it. But we want this thing to be commercially
appealing. Who in the world is that?
So we went off, and in working with the Headquarters guys, we set
up three different advisory groups, basically. There was something
called the Task Force for the Science Utilization of Space Station,
there was a Task Force on the Commercial Utilization of Space Station,
and one on technology utilization.
Now the science utilization guys, we went off and had the Code E at
that time, which was a science code in Washington, recruit membership
of advisors. We found, seems like it was about thirty-two scientists,
all outside NASA, who came together to form a group under Peter Banks,
Dr. Banks out at Stanford, to form what was known affectionately as
the Banks Committee in those days. They would tell us—you know,
we would work through them on science advice.
We did a similar thing on commercial activity through what was Code
C in Washington in those days. It had people on there like representatives
from 3M Corporation, General Motors, and John Deere, I remember, and
a few other companies like that. In those days, people thought they
would agree to do something on Space Station.
Then on the technology side, we basically signed up Langley Research
Center [Hampton, Virginia] to manage that activity for us, because
they had an interface with the aeronautical community and people who
were interested in building structures in space and things like that.
So we set them up, and then we had all these workshops that we would
ask people, users, potential users, to come in, and we basically picked
their brains. What kind of experiments are you planning to do here?
What kind of capability is needed to do that in, etc.? So we compiled
something called a Mission Requirements Database, big thick book about
that big, more experiment requirements than the whole country could
have afforded to build. I don’t know how much money it would
have taken to do that, but anyway, we went through those.
Then we reviewed those in context with the [NASA] Headquarters people
who would have to pay to build all those experiments, so some priority
orders were established. To make a long story short, we ended up defining
a set of capabilities that the Space Station ought to have. Al Louviere,
by this time, is the manager of Systems Engineering and Integration
for the Space Station, Phase B. We were both in the program office.
Neil [B.] Hutchinson is the program manager at that time. Neil and
I, we’d worked together back in MOD.
But my job was to advocate these user requirements into Louviere’s
designing activity to make sure he designed the thing right, and that’s
what we did. We had a lot of debates, a lot of fun discussions on
what should be the cabin pressure. Shuttle likes 10.2 [psi, pounds
per square inch]. Well, users didn’t like 10.2. They wanted
You find out all these interesting things, like it turns out that
the medical database, they have these humongous databases on medical
history and everything. We even went through and calculated what the
average altitude was of that baseline data, and it’s like 400
feet. So if you decreased cabin pressure down to 10.2, you have to
calculate the bias or the offset for your data in order to relate
it back to what your history database is. We liked cabin pressure
at 1 atmosphere, and that’s why the Space Station is at 1 atmosphere
We had discussions on power. Do we go DC power? Do we go with a 400-cycle
power that the aircraft industry liked and Boeing and McDonnell preferred?
Or do we go with 20 kilohertz? There was something called solar-dynamic
power in those days that Lewis Research Center [Cleveland, Ohio] was
pushing. But they wanted to build a 20-kilohertz power system. In
that case, it turns out that if you use like 400-cycle power, you
had beat frequencies that were established through the surrounding
plasma around the Station, and in particular around 13,000 cycles,
the scientists were concerned. That’s the reason they wanted
to look at it. They didn’t want NASA running any beat frequencies
or anything through there and polluting the environment. So they liked
either the 20 kilohertz or DC. It turned out 20 kilohertz didn’t
happen, for other reasons, so DC power ended up on the Space Station.
So you’ve got those kind of things that are there. We were really
concerned about the microgravity environment. At that time people
were trying to grow large wafer crystals. About five-inch diameter
is about as large as you could grow one, we were told, in an Earth
environment, before the effects of gravity would distort the crystal-growing,
and then defects would start showing up in these crystals.
So the idea was, this was going to be a big commercial business. Remember,
now, that we’ve had studies done at this point in time that
said by the year 2000—this was like in ’85 or so—this
would be a 50 billion-dollar-a-year industry. Fifty billion, that
was a lot of money. So we said, “We’d better build this
thing right, you know.”
Well, anyway, so we had to locate the laboratories at the center of
pressure and the center of gravity of this thing to create the best
environment. Shuttle could give you something like ten to the minus-four-G
environment, which is pretty good for most processes. These scientists
were telling me, “Well, we really need ten to the minus-eight
to really extend our knowledge of the physical processes that are
“Well, we can’t get you ten to the minus-eight, because
a crew just sneezing distorts that, you know.” So we ended up
arm-wrestling, and we finally said, “How about ten to the minus-six,
guys?” So that’s where you get ten to the minus-six-G
on the Space Station. That’s where it came from. Just about
that much thought, too. [Laughter] But, anyway, we went through it.
I remember there was about thirty-nine of forty fairly significant
white papers that we prepared, called CADSI papers. I can’t
remember what C-A-D-S-I stands for now, but, anyway. But it was to
present the user perspective of the requirements on the Space Station.
So the Space Station has a large input from the user community. If
they don’t like it, it’s because they didn’t specify
it right to start with.
At the same time, Space Station in those days, when we first did the
Phase B studies, you may have seen pictures of the dual keel, and
we had service bays on there. We were going to haul the Hubble Telescope
down to it and service it and then reboost it. All that’s gone
by way of the budget. There was a lot of activity that—well,
there were polar orbiting satellites. We had two satellites that were
part of the Space Station Program. We had an orbital maneuvering vehicle,
an orbital transfer vehicle. That’s all gone. What else is gone?
A lot of things have gone that were in the original Space Station.
It’s interesting, though, how much of the basic requirements
here that you were defining have stayed, even though the configuration
has changed so much.
That’s because the—well, the United States’ contribution
to that thing still looks a lot like Freedom. It’s still mostly
Freedom. There’s some internal changes like the avionics system
has changed and the computer system, but mostly in the fact that they
simply deleted the central computer system and then the things that
we had for MDMs [multiplexor-demultiplexor] is what you’re left
with for the current Station.
But working the Phase B studies on Space Station was really enthusiastic.
People enjoyed that. The Johnson Space Center, I must say, really
put, I think, their best foot forward in trying to support that program.
I don’t remember the exact number, but it seems like there was
about 175 people that we put into the Space Station Program Office,
and it was the best people we could find around JSC to do that. And
they were very enthusiastic. In particular, Louviere and Norm [Norman
H.] Chaffee and Mark [K.] Craig, who’s down at Stennis [Space
Center, Hancock County, Mississippi] now as the deputy director, they
ran the systems engineering and integration activity, and I did the
customer integration, and Dick Thorson, who’s passed on now,
but was around here for a long time—I don’t know if you
knew Thorson—managed the operations activity. Collectively,
we really tried to put together a good system for them.
Freedom was a good system. It never was $8 billion. The first number
I ever saw, it was $12 billion, internal number. But, unfortunately,
the administrator, who was Jim [James M.] Beggs when he sold it to
[President Ronald] Reagan and company, had used the number 8 billion,
and somehow or another that got cast in concrete. Maybe, in retrospect,
we should have never started it with the design that we had, but what
happened was that people tried to build the station that people thought
was required to meet the requirements.
So that went through Phase B. People turned to and were really working
the problem, but there was a lot of politics. That’s about all
you can say it was. The program had been sold politically. The State
of Virginia had been promised a piece of the action. The State of
Florida, State of Texas, Alabama. You know, everybody had a piece
of the action. Lewis Research Center in Ohio. It forced a distribution
of responsibilities that at the time didn’t make a lot of sense
to us. For example, why would Lewis Research Center, who didn’t
have any background in power systems, be given the job of building
a power system? We put the ECLS [environmental control and life support]
systems at Marshall. Well, they should have been over here. Structures
was brought here. Well, Marshall was better at structures than we
were. It was just all jumbled up.
There was a lot of turf protection, or maybe survivorship, that was
being uppermost in everybody’s mind. Marshall was concerned
about their piece. JSC was concerned about its piece. Everybody was.
The fact of the matter is, and we thought at the program level, not
at the project level that was down here also, but at the program level
we thought we were trying to be evenhanded with everybody, you know.
But I don’t think people away from Johnson ever accepted the
program office as being something other than a Johnson advocate, whether
we were or not.
So there was a lot of discontent on how the program was being managed.
They didn’t like getting their money through another center,
for example. So Headquarters had a study performed. Sam [Samuel C.]
Phillips, you may have heard of the Phillips Study, and they concluded,
“Well, you ought to move the program office somewhere away from
Johnson. Get it out of here. Move it back to Washington.”
At the end of the Phase B studies, that was done, and [the] Reston
[office] was created. Then it came time, well, okay, how are you going
to staff up Reston [Virginia]? Nobody at Johnson moved to Reston.
Nobody. I mean, there might have been two people. So the whole program
memory structure, corporate memory was gone, but they proceeded. Reston
was set up. They staffed it up with wherever they could find people
and they struggled along there for a while. But it started from the
Freedom definition. In fact, Freedom was the program all the way through
At the end of the program, I’m trying to remember the center
director. Who was the center director that was the AA during the Challenger
explosion, came down here for just a few months? I told you I couldn’t
remember all those names.
We can look that up.
Anyway, he had been the Associate Administrator in Washington. In
the Challenger accident, he had been reassigned to JSC as a center
director. At the end of the Phase B studies, Headquarters had decided
they wanted to run an operations study to figure out how to operate
the Space Station, and they wanted Kranz to go off and head that up.
Gene begged off and threw my name into the hat, so I got tagged by
this new center director. I’ll remember his name in a minute.
I should remember him, but I just can’t call it.
So I got sent to Washington for several months to co-chair this Space
Station Operations Task Force, co-chair it with Peter Lyman, who was
deputy director at JPL [Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California]
at the time. So we pulled a group of people together, maybe up to
fifty people at a time, for several months to do a complete reengineering
of how Space Station was going to be operated, or how it would be
operated, reengineering of the way we currently did Shuttles and things
like that. We produced a big stack of stuff, four volumes, the program
baseline, said, “Okay, that’s the way we’re going
to do it,” which they have since forgotten about, or seemed
to. We produced that, and that took the better part of a year.
I came back and Aaron Cohen was the center director then. So he turned
around and sent me back to Washington for a couple of months to work
on a Space Operations Task Force, which was a restructuring of the
Headquarters organizational structures and the programs.
The idea was to try to—well, NASA Headquarters didn’t
have an ops organization; it only had development organizations. They
were trying to get the charter, if you will, for developing the next
generation launch vehicles. The Air Force was sitting over there saying,
“Why should you guys do this? You don’t even have an ops
organization in Washington, and you’ve already demonstrated
with the Shuttle here that you don’t know how to build an operational
Anyway, so there was an effort to create an ops organization in Washington,
and we went up there to help them plan that. But that turned out not
to happen, either, because it got too close. The implementation of
it got too close to the Challenger recovery flight, and nobody wanted
to take the risk of reorganizing just before we were going to re-fly
the Shuttle, which was probably a safe thing to do.
By the time I got back to the center here, Aaron Cohen says, “Well,
what do you do? Who are you?” Not really. But he said, “Now
I want you to go down to the Space Station Project Office,: where
basically I ended up as deputy to Clarke Covington at that time. Clarke
was the project manager. So we started working on what was known as
Work Package 2, which was the JSC part of the Space Station. Things
were already bad, and they just got worse in terms of budgets. I mean,
every year was a reduced budget coming out of the Congress.
In retrospect, I don’t think NASA really ever sold Congress
on the Space Station, because I don’t think they ever had a
good understanding or an appreciation for what the benefits were going
to be coming off the Space Station. So we had to redesign everything
always. Every year, budgets were being scrunched. It got so bad that
Clarke ended up being replaced and John [W.] Aaron was brought in.
John and I had worked together back on Phase B. So that was good.
John’s a good systems engineer and everything, but he couldn’t
solve the budget problems either. I mean, they weren’t solvable.
We had made, in retrospect, really, an error in judgment—we,
JSC, I think. When the Space Station contracts were let, McDonnell-Douglas
underbid what we thought the Work Package 2 effort would cost by about
a billion dollars. We had numbers that said that the thing should
cost about $4 billion, and Rockwell bid about $4 billion. McDonnell
came in with like 2.9 billion, said, “We can build this thing
for 2.9 billion.” And what we should have said is, “Well,
that’s not credible, you know. We need to add some money in
here before we sign this contract.” But what we decided to do
is be very innovative and say, “Well, okay, you want to sign
it for 2.9 billion, we’ll sign you up. If it overruns, we won’t
pay you any fee on the overrun. We’ll have to pay the costs,
but we don’t have to pay you any fee.” So that was the
way we signed it up.
The same thing happened at Marshall. Boeing bid like 800-and-something
million dollars, but Marshall said, “You missed it. We want
2 billion.” So they signed a contract for 1.9 billion, a billion-dollar
overrun before they even started work. Nobody remembers that. But
here we were at Johnson, we signed them up for what they bid.
But then when the thing started growing, we budgeted the 4.2 billion.
We had the money. But even so, the thing started overrunning, exceeded
the 2.9 billion fairly early on, and the thing kept getting requirements
added to it. Reston would add a lot of requirements and not add a
lot of money, and it kept adding up.
Anyway, we had gotten to the point where ultimately before the thing
was terminated, the Estimate at Completion had gotten up to almost
$6 billion to do Work Package 2, but only 100 million of that was
really due to true overrun. The rest of it was due to NASA’s
changing all the requirements and stuff. I mean NASA Headquarters,
not us. But it didn’t matter. We were taking a lot of bad press
In the end, ’92 or so, when the budget had really gotten scrunched,
we redesigned it two or three times. The last time they cut the budget,
I remember there was a big meeting held down here with the center
directors and the Headquarters guys. The outgrowth of that meeting
was, “Well, look, guys, we can go forward and say we can’t
build this Space Station with this amount of money, and they’ll
cancel it today, or we can take it as a challenge and go see if we
can work on it and see what we can do.”
Well, people like McDonnell-Douglas at the time, they certainly couldn’t
afford to say, “We won’t take the challenge,” so
their position was, “Give us the job and let us run with it.”
But the planning that we had done had us laying off people before
we got the CDR [Critical Design Review] to make it work, and that
wasn’t going to work. And it didn’t. It didn’t work.
By the end of ’92, I guess it is, it was clear that this thing
was about $500 million or so in the drink. Certainly in the early
part of the year, it was indicated to be that much over.
I remember another mistake that we made. We had a performance measuring
system [PMS] on the McDonnell contract, which was telling us this
thing has got a problem. But we let—John allowed McDonnell to
convince him that the data wasn’t valid, that we just needed
to turn off that PMS system for several months, and they would return,
I remember, like $3 million to the project, in exchange for turning
that thing off. And later in the year, when things stabilized, they’d
turn it back on and we would reinstate it. When we turned it back
on, it was $700 million in the hole.
To make a long story short, you may or may not remember a Senator
[Robert Charles] Krueger from Texas. He filled out Ralph [Webster]
Yarborough’s term, I think, had been appointed by Ann [W.] Richards.
Anyway, he called for heads, and John’s was the first one to
roll, I guess. That was late ’92, maybe early ’93. Anyway,
we had already brought in earlier than that, because when I had moved
over to the project control deputy job, because we had all these money
problems and things we were trying to create a little more emphasis,
but we also needed some help.
I didn’t have any experience in actually building a lot of software-hardware
type things, specifically. We had this feud, if you will, that was
ongoing between [Robert W.] Moorehead in Washington and John here.
They weren’t getting along too well together. So Moorehead wanted
to put somebody in there that he trusted, that he knew, and Jack [C.]
Boykin, who’s a great guy, incidentally, was selected, over
his dead body. [Laughter] He didn’t want anything to do with
that, but he got drafted like the rest of us. So he came in to help
out. Then when John was asked to give up and move on, Jack was made
the project manager. So we worked on there for about another eight
months, I guess.
But all during this time, we were taking all the heat in the press.
There was a little thing called Space Station News, a paper that was
printed by Phillips up in Washington, had space news, and everybody
was on our case. We were getting it from all sides, not the least
of which from our new administrator, who was just criticizing Space
Station Freedom, you know, from being poorly managed and all this
sort of stuff. We never got any suggestions on how to fix the problem;
all we got was what was wrong with it.
But, anyway, the upshot of it was that I guess it was in ’92
the program survived by one vote in Congress. It was 217 to 216 the
year that that vote occurred. Of course, Mr. [Daniel S.] Goldin and
Mr. Abbey were all vocally critical of the program. So the upshot
of it was that they decided that we needed to consolidate all the
contracts under one single contractor, and Boeing was selected, because
McDonnell, of course, was the outfit that was doing all the overrunning.
They weren’t going to give it to them, although, maybe we should
have. I’m not sure. But it was given to Boeing, and it was restructured.
They moved the program back to Johnson, again, but this time it was
supposed to be a small focused program office that was going to have
no more than 300 civil servants at any time working on Space Station,
and we were going to buy the program from Boeing.
Well, that didn’t work very long. They had all these integrated
product teams and stuff like that that was going to be the mechanism
through which all this was going to occur. So that didn’t turn
out too well. So they went back to pretty much managing the program
the way we’ve always managed programs, but it was more than
300 people, too. So, anyway, that’s how Boeing ended up with
the job, and it turns out later they bought both Rockwell and McDonnell
anyway, so they’ve all been folded in. They bought Rocketdyne,
which was the Work Package 4 group. They were already Work Package
1. Work Package 3 was the Rocketdyne, or 4. It was 4. Anyway, all
of them belong to Boeing now, and that’s the way the Space Station
Now, also, the thing that Goldin did, of course, was make the thing—I’m
not sure whether Goldin did it or whether [William J.] Clinton did
it. I’m not sure who brought the Russians really in, but that
certainly bought the votes in Congress, I mean the program has been
supported very well in Congress as you know, vote-wise. Not so much
money-wise, but vote-wise. So that has helped. You can have your own
opinions about whether or not it really has been good for NASA or
whether it’s been good for the costs, because the costs have
been considerably more than they would have been with the Russians
involved. And the schedule has slipped out. When Freedom was going
to fly in 1992 originally, and could have flown probably in ’94,
could have been up there by then. But, whatever.
So anyway, we worked on Space Station there until Freedom was replaced
with ISS [International Space Station]. At ISS, all of us Freedom
guys had to go find work somewhere else. None of the senior executives
on Space Station Freedom was allowed to go to work on ISS. Not one.
There were forty-one or two senior executives, SES types, on Freedom,
and none of them went to ISS.
What was their reasoning for that?
Mr. Goldin didn’t want them. He didn’t want them. Nobody
ever came down and actually fired us per se, but we just never were
offered the opportunity to go to work on the program, any program.
So that was done.
Anyway, so what we are going to do right now? John [W.] O’Neill—Kranz
had retired, was retiring, you know, and MOD had this $400 million
worth of contracts between the STSOC and the MSC, which was a Mission
Control Center contract and a training contract, which they were really
struggling with administering those things and managing those contracts.
So they asked me to come over, basically if I would go to the Business
Directorate, basically, and head up the MOD Business Office and help
them manage those contracts. The problem was, of course, what we were
going to do is we were going to convert the contracts to completion
form. Do you know what completion form contracts are?
If you could—
Well, it’s a performance-based contract. It was basically to
make the contractor accountable for certain discrete functions and
get the civil servants out of the job and divide the job up, basically.
In the case of RSOC, the STSOC contract, you were talking about 90
percent of the job would be RSOC. So how do you get the NASA civil
servants out of that loop and get this contract set up in a way that
you could manage that and control that activity? So that’s what
I was to go do, was to set a lot of that stuff up. We did that. We
worked on that. I was only out there for a little over a year, but
we struggled for about a year on it.
Then somebody decided—somebody being Mr. Goldin—“We’re
going to do that for the whole Shuttle Program. We’re going
to create a contract. We’re going to give the keys to the Shuttle
to a contractor to go off and operate it.”
By this time, Tommy Holloway is the program manager. Brewster [Shaw]
is already gone. As I told you, Tommy and I worked together a long
time back in the past, so Tommy called me up and said, “I need
somebody to come do that, worry about that, and you’re the guy.”
So I got drafted to go over to the program to set up what turns out
to be the SFOC [Space Flight Operations] Contract, the USA contract.
At the time we were setting that up, Kraft had done a study back in
’93, or ‘94, somewhere along in there, that said, “You
ought to contract this thing out.” It was that that Goldin was
responding to, partly, to go do that.
I told Chris once, I said, “You know, you’re consulting
with Rockwell and you’re making this kind of recommendation,
you know. I kind of wonder about this.” But be that as it may,
he believed, and still does believe, that the Shuttle should have
been frozen design-wise and contracted out and it should have been
flown, taking full advantage of all the redundancies that were built
into it, and that you didn’t need all this big ops infrastructure
for a lot of the stuff.
Well, anyway, that played well with Mr. Goldin, so he said, “We’re
going to do that. So you guys at JSC go figure out how we’re
going to contract out the Shuttle operation.” So what we thought
we’d do at JSC, because the program was at JSC, not because
ops was at JSC, but the program was responsible not only for JSC ops
but also KSC [Kennedy Space Center, Florida] operations. And we thought
that what we would be doing would be setting up a competition between
RSOC, Rockwell’s Space Ops Company up here, and the Lockheed
company, who was the incumbent at KSC. We thought we’d get some
competition and get some good pricing on Shuttle operations. We could
get a winner there.
Well, they had other ideas. They went off and said, “Why don’t
we just team up into a joint venture, and then we don’t have
to compete with each other for this job. We’ll each be happy
with half the job, see.” So they did that, and once they did
that, we ended up with a noncompetitive situation. There was nobody
else that could compete with what was now the United Space Alliance
for operating the Shuttle. The determination was made that that was
the case, and so JSC was basically directed to go off and negotiate
a direct contract with USA for operating the Shuttle. It was sole-sourced
to them, and so we had to go do that.
By this time, once they decided, “Well, okay, we’re going
to have this contract and get on with it.” Do you know what
a COTR is, contracting officers technical rep? Well, I didn’t
want to be the COTR on that contract, because I was getting too old
by then, and we needed somebody who was going to be around for three
or four years to live through the transition of it.
I knew just the guy, Boykin, who said he didn’t want anything
to do with that job the second time. But he was the only choice we
really had, somebody that was young enough that was going to be here
a while, and who had the background to do it, really do it well. So
he had his arm twisted to come over and do the COTR for the thing.
So he and I and a few, Jim [James B.] Costello mainly, and a couple
other guys, put a lot of effort, Randy [K.] Gish, put a lot of effort
into setting up this SFOC contract.
The part I had to do was to do the program management plan, which
is a big, thick book on how we’re going to manage the program,
what role USA is going to have versus what NASA’s going to retain,
and how we would oversee their contract and how we would transition
the jobs. We had all these subsystem managers. There were twenty-eight
of them scattered throughout E&D. Those jobs were going to be
transitioned over to USA, as well as many of the other lesser jobs.
We were basically giving USA—well, we were going to give them
the whole job except the astronauts. Later on, we backed off a little
bit and said, “No, we’ll keep MOD.” So there’s
about 200 MOD civil servants over there that worked Shuttle. But everything
else in the program belongs to USA, and their contract is structured
such that they are accountable, in the strictest sense, for the performance
of those jobs.
Working that out, as you can imagine, was traumatic, because the first
thing we had to do was to say, “Okay, well, we no longer need
an Orbiter Project Office at the Johnson Space Center,” so we
had to abolish that. Well, Jay [H.] Greene didn’t think that
was such a good idea. He was the Orbiter project manager. So he had
strong opinions about how that would be done, but he lost. So we ended
up abolishing the Orbiter Project Office. We transitioned the remaining
functions that needed to be within NASA into what was called Level
2 in the Shuttle Program Office. Jay was to work in there for a while.
We had all these contracts. To give you an idea what we were dealing
with, there were eighty-something contracts on the Shuttle Program.
We had gone through an analysis of all those things, and twenty-eight
of them we had decided could be consolidated into the USA contract.
The others we were either going to just let expire or we were never
going to move them into the Shuttle Program, because they were shared
with the Space Station or something else, you know, some reason why
we wouldn’t put them in there. But twenty-eight of them, we
said, “Okay, these are going.”
Those included the major contracts at Marshall, the solid rocket booster,
the main engines, the external tanks. You can imagine how far we got
with those kinds of discussions, too, but that’s where we were
headed. So we had a lot of debate, a lot of discussion. Some of those
are still transitioning, like the main engine contract was scheduled
to transition into USA. Now I don’t think they’ll ever
do it, because there’s no real motivation for doing it anymore.
But the solid rocket booster has transitioned to USA. The external
tank may very well be in USA’s camp now, I’m not sure.
But it was a big deal, because we’re talking about half the
Shuttle Program budget going to USA. You’re talking about a
billion and a half dollars a year going to USA. So that’s what
we were all about. Well, we did all that. That started in late ’95,
I guess. I think we started the contract, was it in fiscal year ’97?
The first of fiscal year ’97 the contract was awarded. I mean
they were in place.
We took a couple of years, what was scheduled to be for two years,
for transitioning the activity over, which took me to the end of ’97.
So it was time then for me to say sayonara. Actually, things were
pretty well set up and running. Boykin had the contract and he was
in position. The contracting officer, Randy [M.] Gish, and everybody
was in position, had everything reasonably well defined. The transition
of these other contracts was going to occur later, longer than I wanted
to stay anyway. So it was just time to move on.
I had worked with the Japanese back during the early days of Space
Station quite a bit, bringing in the international requirements on
the Space Station, and they were proselytizing me real heavy to go
to work with them. They were setting up an office here to more or
less just be a full-time consultant with them. That’s what we’ve
We’ve got another ten people over there, mostly who are ex-NASA,
retired NASA people. We advise the Japanese on how to avoid all the
briar patches around JSC and actually help them in setting up their
operations in Japan. I don’t know, you may not be familiar with
how the Space Station operation is being set up, but Japan has a space
center at a town called Tsububa. You may have heard of Tsububa, I
don’t know. But it looks like JSC East. All the buildings are
there, the facilities are there. They’ve got water tanks. They’ve
got simulators. They’ve got all the things you’d find
at JSC. They have a control center that looks like this one over here.
What they don’t have is the people to use all that stuff, you
know, and that’s what we do, is we advise them on establishing
the teams of people to interface with the local MOD guys and the local
We also help them understand what’s going on in the program.
Language is a terrible problem. They are too proud, frankly, to ask
for interpreters. They speak English, but they don’t really
speak English, because we don’t speak English. You walk into
a room with them, and some American will say, “Well, what’s
up?” And they look up. That’s what it means to them. They’ve
been formally trained in English, but most words just go by them.
They miss a lot.
So we spend a lot of time interpreting stuff as to what it really
means, advising them on how to interact with the NASA people. There
are problems in a cultural sense, or beyond the language. They don’t
make decisions the way NASA makes decisions. NASA gets a half a dozen
people around a table, and they discuss it, argue about it, and decide
“This is what we’ll do.”
Meetings in Japan are held for photo opportunities, basically. If
you have a program manager who wants to meet with Tommy Holloway or
something, he doesn't expect to do any work. I mean, work’s
already been done, and it’s a matter simply of consummating,
if you will, the agreement or blessing or validating what’s
already been decided. By and large, they are that way. They work by
consensus at a working level. It makes for some interesting discussions
about how in the world did you guys expect to interface with a flight
director who’s a dictator, who’s over on these ops teams?
I don’t think we have a real answer for that yet. They are pretty
much prone to go along with whatever NASA wants to do, so they’re
probably just going to let NASA make the decisions.
But at the same time, they are responsible for conducting a large
part of the crew training, will be done in Japan, a lot of the mission
planning associated with activities that go on in their modules, there
will be half of their laboratory is allocated for U.S. usage, so there
will be a lot of American experimenters who will have their experiments
flown in a Japanese module. So all the activities that go on to make
sure that that all works right has to be worked out, and that’s
what we try to help them with.
People like, well, Bob [Robert K.] Holkan works for us. He was a division
manager who built the Space Station simulator over here for NASA and
managed the Crew Training Division before Pete [Peter J.] Beauregard
and Frank [E.] Hughes were over there. So that’s the kind of
people. We’ve got safety experts from here at Johnson. We’ve
got information systems people who retired here at JSC. We’re
in the consulting business, just as full-time consultants. We sit
over there and they send us questions and we answer them. We review
NASA proposals and stuff for them.
To us old NASA guys, it was a place where we thought, well, this is
a good place to ease into full retirement. I’ll tell you, if
you work the way I had been working and you just walk out the door,
you might die the next day if you didn’t have anything to do.
So we ease into it a little bit. I told them I’d give them three
years, but that was up this past January. So I’m still trying
to figure out whether or not I can—we had hoped to be flying
the Japanese experiments module by this point in time, but it’s
still three years away. NASA slipped the schedule. It looks like I’m
not going to make it all the way to the flight date, so I’m
not sure how much longer I’ll stay around to help them with
what’s going on right now.
But that’s pretty much it. I worked thirty-three years here,
three years in the military, so I had thirty-six years of service,
plus I had about a year and a half of leave accumulated. In 1998 when
I retired, I had over thirty-seven years of service, so it was time
to go. I miss a lot of it. The pace is certainly slower when you move
out of here. And the people. People have always been great at JSC
as you know. Some of them don’t know how good they are. When
they ultimately retire and go out and work in the contract arena,
they’ll find out just that they’re really better than
they think they are. That’s been my observation, anyway. They’ve
got their hands full right now, though. Tommy [Holloway] does, anyway.
Very much so.
But they couldn’t be in better hands. I mean the Space Station
couldn’t. I don’t know what your center director status
is. You need to go find a center director. [Laughter]
Yes, I think they’re working on that at the moment.
I guess you need an administrator, too.
Yes. It will be interesting to see what happens with all of it.
Well, I know Roy [S.] Estess very well. He’s a nice fellow,
but he, of course, he doesn’t want to be center director at
JSC. He wants to retire, I think. He and I went to school together
a long time ago. So I expect he’s not going to be a candidate.
I don’t know. They need to go find a good fifty-year-old guy.
Have you got any of them floating around out there somewhere?
I’m sure there’s quite a few out there that have experiences
such as yours to build off of, that will—
There’s not as many of them internal to JSC as they need, but
they’ll find somebody.
I know time is just about up. We appreciate the time that you’ve
shared with us today and the experiences that you’ve been able
Well, I don’t know if that will help you any or not, but.
Absolutely. Absolutely. It’s been very useful. There are a couple
things, if you might consider coming back at a second time, but maybe
after we’ve had a chance to get the transcript done, you can
review what you’ve said. But I think there were a couple things
I’d like to go back and touch on in a little more detail, but
Sure. Well, you have my office number. We’re over there, just
five minutes away. We’re not usually so busy that we can’t
break out. One thing I find about working for a Japanese company is,
you know, they are very paternalistic companies, but, you know, something
like a performance plan or something, that’s unheard of. They
don’t do anything like that. I mean you just go do the thing,
and that’s it. So they’re very easy to work with, very
personable, can’t do enough for you, that sort of thing. Certainly
they would never tell you how to schedule your day or something like
that. So we have pretty much free rein to do.
Certainly a different environment, having come from NASA and the government
background and then—
One of the things which they did last year, which they didn’t
have to do, we did a study for Joe [Joseph H.] Rothenburg on basically
Space Station operations, but it was for utilization of the Space
Station. I don’t know if you know, but the National Research
Council did a study on how the utilization should be managed on Space
Station. Basically, what they concluded was that you ought to take
the whole operation and turn it over to an NGO, a non-government organization.
Do you remember this study?
A little bit, yes.
A little bit. They don’t publicize it too much, because it has
a lot of ramifications, but, anyway, so that study comes floating
across to NASA that says, “Here’s what you ought to go
do.” Rothenburg was responsible for responding, and he said,
“Oh, my god, what am I going to do with that?” So he decided
to hire what turned out to be Computer Sciences Corporation [CSC]
won the competition to do a study on how should we, in fact, manage
the Space Station operations. CSC wanted me to go consult with them
in responding to this thing. The Japanese, they just volunteered and
said, “Sure, go do it.” They’re free, because they
didn’t have any money, and NASA didn’t have any money,
not enough to count for anything. So they volunteered. I worked probably
three or 400 hours, I guess, with them on that stuff. So they do things
like that. Now, they probably figure, well, maybe we’ll learn
something about what NASA’s about in the process of doing it,
but they haven’t so far. But they try to be good citizens. Of
course, we’re Japanese-owned and operated and I only work for
the Japanese, so there’s no conflict-of-interest stuff with
NASA. We don’t get paid by NASA or anything. So they don’t
mind helping out a little bit every now and then.
Things may change in the future, though. The economy’s gone
south in Japan, as you know. They may have difficulties in the future,
but right now they’re still trying. They are probably the best
partner. They’ve always been about the best partner that we
had on Space Station. They still are.
The Russians, of course, have been here with hat in hand, “Send
me money.” The Europeans, I guess, haven’t asked for any
money yet, but they’ve scrubbed out their contribution. The
Japanese contribution is still 100 percent of what it was in the beginning.
They’re building the laboratory. They’re building the
Exposed Facility. They built the manipulator arm. They even added
an HTV into the equation.
So they’re trying to get into the space business. What they’re
going to do with it, I don’t know.
It was kind of interesting back in the early days of Space Station
when we were looking at the user requirements. The one thing that
always interested me that I never could find out any detail on but
really interested me, all the Japanese users were companies like Sony
and Toshiba, which made me always wonder who exactly was in charge
of their stuff. It’s still that way to a large measure. They
very much are in this thing for whatever they can get out of it commercially
for the long haul. It will be interesting to see how it turns out.
See what happens with it, yes, very much so.
The Station is probably going to fly more than the fifteen years,
too. Why would they turn it off after ten or twelve years? Because
we won’t be able to build a new one by then.
This one took long enough.
Well, you don’t have any money. Congress won’t give you
the money, so this thing will be like the B-52. Do you know how old
the B-52s are?
They started flying that about 1952. Been over fifty years.
But, yes, if you need me to come back and answer any questions, I’d
be happy to do that.
Great, we appreciate that.
Anything else I can help you with.
Appreciate it. You certainly had some very interesting times.
Well, some of them were tough. Some of them were tough. We had some
dark, dark periods there in the late eighties and early nineties.
I mean NASA did. The Station was really in the dumps, and we weren’t
sure where Shuttle was there for a couple of years. Things are looking
a little better right now.
Tried to learn from those experiences and make the best of them as
could be done.
Well, the country probably can afford us more so now. We don’t
have to fight for it. Well, you do. I mean you’re still imposing
the budget constraint on the Station now, and I don’t know,
I haven’t talked to anybody over in the Space Station Program
Office, but if you have to live with these cuts that leave you with
three people, three astronauts, that doesn’t work. So that has
Yes, that’s hard.
And it will. Tommy [Holloway] will at least work toward that. I’m
not sure he’s going to be around long enough to make it all
happen, but he’s, Tommy’s sixty. He’s got about
thirty-five, thirty-six years of service, maybe now. And I know Shirley
is ready for him to retire.
Sometimes that’s a very large consideration.
Well, he’s got grandkids that she likes to be close to. I don’t
blame her. You live to work, or you work to live. There’s a
There is. There is.
Most of us have lived to work for most of our lives, but now it’s
time to change. He should work to live and get on with what he wants
All right. Thank you so much. I appreciate it.