Today I worked my final shift as a space shuttle flight controller. Although I spent most of this flight supporting from the back room, I was able to work one final shift out front yesterday, and then unexpectedly got to spend another hour out there today. I’m glad I got to work the final space shuttle flight, and happy I was able to spend a final few moments at the Rendezvous console. My five years in Mission Control have been truly unforgettable.
As many of you know, in addition to finishing out the shuttle program as a flight controller, I’ve been “on rotation” to another organization at JSC since October. I’ve been working as a Visiting Vehicle Safety Engineer for the ISS program, and specifically concentrating on the Russian Soyuz and Progress vehicles. A few months ago they offered me the opportunity to turn my rotation into a reassignment and join their group permanently.
I’ve watched many friends and coworkers leave NASA over the past year, some voluntarily and some the victims of layoffs. Many more will be leaving within the month after the shuttle reaches “wheels stop.” I’m very lucky to be a civil servant, so I’ve always known that I would have a job after shuttle, but I wasn’t always sure what that job would be. I feel incredibly fortunate to have been in a position where I had options, and where I was allowed to make a choice about where I wanted to go from here.
And so, after some soul-searching, I decided to accept the offer and leave the Mission Operations Directorate, where I’ve worked for more than a decade. I’ve spent all of that time in Flight Dynamics — three tours as a co-op student, four years as an analyst, and five years supporting the space shuttle as a flight controller. I’m leaving the only organization at JSC that I’ve ever really known, and I have to admit that it’s a little scary. But I’m excited too. Since I started the rotation in October, I’ve been enjoying the change of pace and the exposure to new and different things. I think that the new job will be a great opportunity for me to meet new people, learn new things, and experience parts of NASA that I’ve never seen before.
Onward and upward!