Goddard Retirees and Alumni Association
P.O. Box 163, Lanham, MD 20703-0163


Holiday Issue - Dec 2012/Jan 2013 http://graa.gsfc.nasa.gov 28th Year of Publication


January 8 Mark your calendar for the GRAA Luncheon at 11:30 a.m. Reservations are required, so either contact Alberta Moran on her cell phone at 301-910-0177 or via e-mail at mdspacebr@aol.com no later than noon on Friday, January 4th. Our featured speaker will be Dr. Ajay Kothari, Aeronautical Engineer and Founder/CEO of ASTROX Corporation in College Park, MD. His presentation, entitled “Opening Up Space,” will delve into his visionary concepts for making orbital access routine through developing the technologies required for fully reusable, quick-turnaround rockets and hypersonic vehicles.
February 12 Mark your calendar for the GRAA Luncheon at 11:30 a.m.

COMMENTS FROM RON BROWNING, GRAA PRESIDENT: I extend best wishes to all GRAA members and their families for a joyous holiday season and a prosperous New Year. As we wind down 2012 and look forward to 2013, it is my pleasure to thank the volunteers and luncheon speakers who have made this a very successful year. We are fortunate to have a cadre of dedicated volunteers who support luncheons; label, stuff and process mailings; recruit speakers; maintain the GRAA database; keep our finances in order; correspond with members; and compile and edit our newsletter. I especially want to thank members whose generous donations during the year allowed us to compile and mail membership directories to about 2,500 members.

At the November luncheon, Frank Cepollina provided a lively presentation, “Satellite Servicing and the Spirit of Innovation,” covering both the history and future of orbiting satellite servicing and extending longevity. He began by paying tribute to Joe Purcell, former Director of Engineering, for developing and advocating spacecraft modularity as early as 1968. Purcell’s dedication resulted in satellites such as the Hubble Space Telescope and the Solar Maximum Mission being repaired on orbit and extending their useful lives by years. Frank has demonstrated during his career to be a visionary when it comes to extending orbiting satellite usefulness. He described concepts he is pursuing, with industry partnerships, for using ground-controlled robots to refuel communication satellites at geosynchronous orbit. Lack of fuel is a major cause of such satellite failure by not being able to maintain rigid station keeping. He also discussed hyperspectral imaging for observing agriculture production. In his closing remarks, Frank lamented the lack of modularity on the James Webb Space Telescope, which inhibits robotic serviceability.

The Frank McDonald Memorial Symposium on November 16th, with presentations by some 20 speakers, was a sincere tribute to the influence Dr. McDonald had on careers and new scientific endeavors from throughout the worldwide space science community. His passion for mentoring was described from his early days at Goddard in 1959 until his recent passing. Frank had a most positive impact on scientific experiments across the electromagnetic spectrum.


TREASURER’S REPORT: Bob Wigand received tax-deductible donations from the following members: Robert Halli, Ellen Herring, Eugene Humphrey, Paul Karpiscak, John Lahzun, Robert McIntyre, Joseph Novello, Robert Segal, Ralph Shapiro, and Richard Strafella.

TAX-DEDUCTIBLE CONTRIBUTIONS TO GRAA ENCOURAGED: Only two+ weeks remain for you to consider making a contribution to help GRAA’s treasury remain financially-viable and possibly deducting it on your 2012 federal income tax return. Please keep GRAA in your holiday thoughts by sending a check before the end of the year to GRAA, P.O. Box 163, Lanham, MD 20703-0163.

TROPICAL RAINFALL MEASURING MISSION (TRMM) CELEBRATES 15TH ANNIVERSARY: Late last month TRMM celebrated its 15th Anniversary. Launched on November 27, 1997, from the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan, TRMM is a joint mission hosted by NASA and Japan’s National Space Development Agency (now Japan’s Aerospace Exploration Agency). TRMM was designed for a three-year lifespan; however, it continues to operate successfully after 15 years of on-orbit service.


•  Anthony P. Flanick, of Silver Spring, MD (formerly of Laurel, MD), passed away on November 13th. He was an Electronics Technician in the Laboratory for Extraterrestrial Physics who worked on energetic particle detection systems starting with Explorer 12’s cosmic ray experiments and spanning the Interplanetary Monitoring Platform and Orbiting Geophysical Observatory missions from 1963-1973.

•  Thomas Keating, Jr., of Silver Spring, MD, passed away on October 24th. He was an Electrical Engineer and spent the early part of his career at Goddard developing the Spaceflight Tracking and Data Network and conducting studies for the development of the TDRS System. Tom later worked in the Advanced Mission Analysis Office where he was Study Manager for the conceptual design of TRMM, earning him the title of “Father of TRMM.” Once TRMM was approved as a project, he joined the project office and served as Systems Engineer, Japanese Interface Manager, and Precipitation Radar Interface Manager. Tom was definitely the “go to guy” for TRMM mission questions and even delayed his retirement until TRMM was launched and on-orbit checkout was complete.

•  William B. Stitz, of Millersville, MD, passed away on November 5th. He was a Civil Engineer with the Field Facilities Branch of the Space Tracking and Data Network Division and worked on selecting, designing and installing equipment at field tracking stations during the Apollo days.

•  Walter B. (Sully) Sullivan, Jr., of Millsboro, DE (formerly of Bowie, MD) passed away on December 2nd. Among many varied assignments during his 35-year NASA career, Walter started as a Bio-Medical Space Engineer in the Division of Space Medicine at NASA Headquarters, where he was a member of the bio-medical team that evaluated/selected the seven Project Mercury astronauts. He later transferred to Goddard’s Engineering Directorate where he worked for John Mengel and John Boeckel in adapting micro-technology developments for medical use. These tasks included the development of implantable devices such as heart pacemakers, rechargeable through the skin, and radio-programmable pumps with refillable insulin reservoirs for diabetics. He also worked for years in the Office of Commercial Programs/Technology Transfer.

GRAA MEMBER PUBLISHES AUTOBIOGRAPHY : GRAA Member Ralph Shapiro recently published his autobiography, “From NYC Lower East Side to NASA Satellite Operations Manager.” It provides both a vivid description of life during the Great Depression and the story of the Nimbus Program, the Nimbus Project membership, and benefits to society from the seven Nimbus satellites. This information will be used by the Center Director’s office to promote the accomplishments of the Nimbus Program in conjunction with the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Nimbus-1 now in the initial planning stage for August 2014. Ralph’s book is available for purchase at http://www.ralph-shapiro.com or on major book-selling websites.

THOUGHT FOR THE HOLIDAYS: Curiosity, NASA’s robotic rover, has been exploring Mars for over a year. Images returned to Earth show no signs of ESPN, beer or poker, making it abundantly clear that men are not from Mars.