June 2013 29th Year of Publication


June 11 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 no later than noon on Friday, June 7th. Our speaker will be Dr. David Tomko, NASA’s Program Executive for Space Biology. At press time, we are not certain what he will choose as the title of his presentation. However, suffice it to say he will likely provide a synopsis of NASA’s Life Sciences Program research efforts.
July 9 Mark your calendar for the GRAA Luncheon at 11:30 a.m.

COMMENTS FROM RON BROWNING, GRAA PRESIDENT: Eugene Kiley, retired Senior Engineer at Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) described at our May luncheon the work of William Avery at APL on the production of methanol using Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC). Methanol can be an alternative to unleaded gasoline as a fuel source. Avery’s concept uses solar energy that is absorbed in the tropical ocean where surface temperatures are maintained at 80 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the year and at depths of 3000 feet at 40 degrees Fahrenheit. The differential of 40 degrees could be used to generate power essentially in the same way as steam engines when liquid ammonia or propane is substituted for water. He further proposed using shipboard OTEC to produce methanol. Methanol can be synthesized commercially in a process using coal or natural gas as a carbon source and electrolysis of water for hydrogen and oxygen. The methanol generated onboard ship can then be transported for land usage. This process requires .78 tons of coal to produce one ton of methanol. Dow Chemical Company has land-based methanol plants in China, but they are much less efficient and require 1.5 to 2.1 tons of coal to produce one ton of methanol. Mr. Kiley is most passionate about our nation adopting this noteworthy and well-tested process in future energy policy plans relative to producing a sustainable and cost-effective alternative fuel.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is seeking scientists, engineers and mathematicians to assist K-12 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) teachers in Washington, DC, and surrounding counties during the 2013-14 school year. Such volunteer assistance may involve giving demonstrations, assisting in lab experiments, lecturing on special projects, assisting with homework, etc. It is no doubt a wonderful opportunity to share your knowledge and help out with training the next generation of STEM careerists. Please send a note expressing your interest in participating (include your name, address and telephone number) to Betty Calinger at or call her at 202-326-6629 for details.

FROM THE GODDARD ARCHIVES - IT HAPPENED IN JUNE: Forty years ago, on June 10, 1973, a Delta rocket launched Explorer 49, also known as Radio Astronomy Explorer (RAE)-B, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL. It was the second of a pair of RAE satellites - the first was Explorer 38 (RAE-A), launched July 4, 1968 from Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA. Explorer 49 was placed into lunar orbit to provide radio astronomical measurements of the planets, the sun, and the galaxy. It had four 230-meter-long X-shaped antenna elements, which made it one of the largest spacecraft ever built. Since the spacecraft’s design used gravity gradient booms, the lumpy lunar gravity field made for some interesting problems for mission scientists. Explorer 49 was launched after the termination of the Apollo mission, and although it did not directly examine the Moon, it was the last American lunar mission until the launch of the Clementine spacecraft in 1994. Mission duration was June 1973 to June 1975 and the last contact was in August 1977.

TREASURER’S REPORT: Bob Wigand received tax-deductible donations from the following: Donald Crosby, Dario Galoppo, Anthony Grandi, Ellen Herring, David Manges, Alton Payne, Colleen Quinn-House, Edward Radovich, Joseph Rothenberg, and Thomas Underwood.

RECENT RETIREES: Bruce A. Campbell, Robert H. Estes, Willa C. Gaitanis, Dr. Richard A. Goldberg, Malores V. Hall, Paul E. Hunter, Linda V. Landini, Alvin S. Lieberman, Dr. Charles R. McClain, Paul A. Thompson, Pamela I. Trance, and Chris Wilkinson.

GRAA NEWSLETTER MAILINGS: Members desiring to receive the GRAA Newsletter via email versus snail mail may simply send an email to Strat Laios at Please consider doing so, as you will help save a tree and GRAA’s mailing fees.


•  Hager Blair, Sr., of Englewood, FL, passed away on April 12th from complications of lung disease. As a Kentucky boy, he lied about his age when he enlisted in the Army during WWII at age 16. After retiring as a US Air Force Master Sergeant, he served as an Electronics Technician in the Space Electronics Branch at Goddard. Of the 58 combat missions he flew during WWII, the mission that made the biggest impression on him was the one his squadron made on October 10, 1944, when his flight crew flew 18.5 hours to knock out a Japanese oil refinery in Borneo.

•  Dr. Dale W. Harris, of Davidsonville, MD, passed away from a heart attack on April 25th. He held numerous leadership positions at Goddard, including Senior Engineer in the Electrical Power Systems Group, Head of the Power Systems Design Section, Head of the Space Technology Branch, Product Manager for the Cosmic Background Explorer, Deputy Project Manager for the Gamma Ray Observatory, Project Director for the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System, Deputy Director of Flights Projects, Deputy Director for Institutional Programs in the Mission Operations and Data Systems Directorate, and Deputy Director for the Earth Science and Data Information Systems Directorate before retiring in 1997. After retiring, Dale held several consultant positions for Goddard-related contractors (including Swales and SGT).

•  Wayne E. Hughes, of Cambridge Springs, PA, passed away on May 8th. Among various assignments, he worked as a Technician in the Radio Frequency Branch of the Networks Directorate and later in the Laser Project Office of the Networks Directorate.

•  Nelson F. Rubin, of Silver Spring, MD, passed away on May 7th. Among varied assignments at Goddard, he worked in the Stabilization & Control Branch of the Earth Observation Systems Engineering Division of the Space Applications & Technology Directorate. He later worked in the Components & Engineering Section of the Applied Engineering & Technology Directorate and the Components & Hardware Systems Branch of the Space Applications & Technology Directorate.

•  Barbara A. Reamy, of Waldorf, MD, passed away on April 24th. She was a Facilities Contract Specialist at Goddard for 30+ years.

•  Sachio Saito, of Chevy Chase, MD, passed away on June 28, 2012. During the early ‘60s he was Head of the Calibration & Standards Section of the Quality Assurance Branch, Test & Evaluation Division, Office of Technical Services.

•  John Sween, Jr, of Fort Washington, MD, passed away on May 1st. He was a Technician at Goddard and worked in the Mechanical Systems Branch, Spacecraft Integration & Sounding Rockets Division, Technology Directorate. He later worked as a Section Head in the Environmental Test & Integration Branch of the Engineering Directorate.

GRAA MAILINGS: If you no longer wish to receive the GRAA Newsletter, simply send a note to our Lanham, MD, address or an email to Dave Moulton ( ) and we will regretfully remove your entry from our database.

SPACE-RELATED ANAGRAMS: Homer Hickam, retired Marshall Space Flight Center Aerospace Engineer, wrote the autobiographical novel entitled Rocket Boys about growing up in Coalwood, WV. It was the basis of the film October Sky – yes, that’s an anagram. For yet another anagram, when you rearrange the letters in the word Astronomer it becomes Moon Starer.

THOUGHT FOR THE MONTH: America is the only country where a significant proportion of the population believes that professional wrestling is real but the moon landing was faked!