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Congrats NASA!

July 8, 2011

This morning I listened to the launch of the Space Shuttle Atlantis on NPR, the final space shuttle mission.  It brought back a lot of memories for me personally, having started my career nearly 30 years ago as an electrical engineer at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mt View, California. Pictured here, I was tasked with designing and fabricating a small, standalone data recorder device that was ultimately used in shuttle missions, aboard Russian COSMOS rockets, and even in the Antarctic.  Checkout that Heathkit VT100 terminal and the bubble memory device it is tied into behind!

I joined NASA shortly after the first shuttle launched in 1981 and just in time for my cousin Jimmy and I to travel to Edwards Air Force Base to see the landing of the 4th shuttle mission in July of ’82.  As a NASA employee we got to stay and camp on the facility side of the base, along with plus or minus 20,000 others (and President Regan!).  I remember watching the lines of car lights leading down from the hills on the other side of the lake bed where some 100,000 not so lucky visitors came to see.

It was great to be a part of that experience.  For 50 years NASA has been a driving force behind high technology and can be credited with a huge number of ideas, devices and technology that are now so ingrained in our daily lives we no longer consider them high-tech.  Velcro and Tang being the least of them. We also know from real experience just how dangerous it is to operate such a complex machine in such a hostile environment, and I wish a safe journey to all of the astronauts aboard.  I strongly believe in using non-military scientific programs such as NASA to motivate and give positive direction to our creative drive and entrepreneurship, and hope that through it we will continue to seek new opportunities and set new goals that do so in this new, post-Shuttle era.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. July 11, 2011 10:49 am

    I may have asked you this, but were you ever on the PLATO network/system back in the late ’70s or early ’80s?

    • July 12, 2011 6:51 am

      No, I don’t know of that one. What was it?

      • Peter Stubbs permalink
        July 13, 2011 1:16 pm

        It was an education-centered project that linked several college campuses, corporate facilities and learning centers together to a Control Data mainframe. My dad worked for CDC at the time, so we had a terminal in our house from about 1978 to 1984, huge thing with an orange plasma display and one of those old phone couplers.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PLATO_(computer_system)

        So, I suppose I can claim I was playing online, multiplayer video games in 1979! On a machine with a plasma touch-screen, no less!

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