October 2013 29th Year of Publication


October 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 no later than noon on Friday, October 4th. Christopher Scolese, Center Director, will bring attendees up-to-date about Goddard’s ongoing and new missions as well as the general health and welfare of the Center. Please attend and show the Center Director our continuing passion about Goddard’s history and future.
November 12 Mark your calendar for the GRAA Luncheon at 11:30 a.m. William Wrobel, Director of the Wallops Flight Facility (WFF) and Suborbital and Special Orbital Projects Directorate, will provide an overview of the many new and exciting missions that have been occurring at the WFF of late (check out the WFF-related items at the end of the newsletter).
December There will be no GRAA Luncheon due to December’s many holiday-related events.

COMMENTS FROM RON BROWNING, GRAA PRESIDENT: Attendees at the GRAA Luncheon in September were treated to an overview of a potentially soon-to-be-visible comet later this fall. Dr. Jian-Yang Li, an astronomer/senior research associate who works for the Planetary Science Institute, graciously filled in for scheduled speaker Dr. Carey Lisse of Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory due to his having another commitment. Dr. Li (who had Asteroid 21496 formally named Lijianyang in 2008), described Comet ISON (International Scientific Optical Network), which was discovered last year and is expected to arrive near the Sun in the November/December timeframe while traversing the Sun in a parabolic orbit. He showed images of similar comets that became visible and left our solar system. Such comets come from the Kuiper Belts and Oort clouds beyond the solar system. Comet ISON is a Sun-grazing comet expected to come near the Sun and be visible from Earth for 19 or so hours. Multiple on-orbit satellites and ground-based telescopes are observing ISON in visible and infrared spectrums as well as looking for constituents such as carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. It should approach Mars in October, allowing the Curiosity rover and the Mars Reconnaissance Observer to capture images. Dr. Li closed his presentation by noting that three rings will potentially occur on Comet ISON as it passes the Sun, survive as a single nucleus, split into fragments, and evaporate or disintegrate. Keep an eye out during November for a bright object in the sky. If you miss it, we’re certain there will be film at eleven!

TREASURER’S REPORT: Treasurer Bob Wigand reports he received donations from the following members: Robert Adams, Thomas Cygnarowicz, William Elsen, William Jones, Robert Keefe, David Manges, Doris Martin (in memory of Buck Arneson, Mary Ellen Shoe and Robert Smaldore), John Moody, and Thomas Underwood.

ADVANCE NOTICE FOR 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF NIMBUS-1: Member Ralph Shapiro has noted that the Nimbus-1 satellite failed on September 23, 1964, after only 26 days in orbit. It is ironic that the failure turned into a blessing because it changed the Nimbus Program from a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) production satellite program into the first NASA Earth resources research program that ultimately resulted in a multitude of benefits to society over time. The Center Director’s office is planning to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Nimbus-1 launch next August to publicize successes of the entire Nimbus program, which include revolutionary weather forecasting with satellite measurements of atmospheric temperatures, measuring the upper atmosphere ozone hole, developing search and rescue/location-using satellites, and much more. We will keep members up-to-date about the anniversary plans over the coming months.

FROM THE GODDARD ARCHIVES - IT HAPPENED IN OCTOBER: On October 16, 1975, a Delta rocket 2914 launched the SMS-C/GOES-A (Synchronous Meteorological Satellite/Geostationary Environmental Satellite), which was the first operational satellite in the NOAA geosynchronous weather satellite system. The satellite was positioned over the Indian Ocean and had the capability to continuously monitor cataclysmic weather events such as hurricanes and typhoons, relay meteorological data from over 10,000 surface locations into a central processing center for incorporation into numerical weather prediction models, and perform facsimile transmission of processed images to field stations. GOES-A was replaced by GOES-C, which was launched in 1978. After completing operations over the Indian Ocean, it was moved to replace SMS-B over the Pacific Ocean and remained there until it was deactivated on March 7, 1985.

THOUGHT FOR THE MONTH: Our parents taught us well to always respect our elders, but it has become harder and harder to find them nowadays.


•  William D. Fortney, of Ocean Pines, MD, passed away on August 21st. He was an Electrical Engineer at Goddard who, among various assignments, worked in the Engineering Directorate in subordinate organizations such as the Mission Operations Division, Sounding Rockets Division, Special Payloads Division, and Applied Engineering Division.

•  Donald P. Hearth, of Charleston, SC, passed away on September 5th after a brief illness. Dr. Hearth was a Mechanical Engineer who worked for the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (before NASA was formed) in Cleveland in the ’50s, then worked for private industry, and then returned to NASA Headquarters in 1962 as Director of Planetary Programs. He subsequently moved on to become Goddard’s Deputy Director. In 1975, Dr. Hearth became Director of the Langley Research Center, and then spent a year as NASA’s Acting Deputy Administrator for a year until retiring in 1985.

•  Raymond J. Hibbs, of Odenton, MD (formerly of Greenbelt and Silver Spring, MD), passed away on August 18th. He was an Electrical Engineer at Goddard. In the late ’60s he was Head of the Timing and Display Section for the Manflight Engineering Division. In the late ’70s he became Assistant Head of the Tracking and Command Data Systems Branch (which later became the Spaceflight Tracking and Data Network Ground Systems Engineering and Integration Branch) of the Networks Directorate.

•  Robert S. Kraemer, of Catonsville, MD, passed away on August 20th of complications from a fall. He was an Aeronautical Engineer who came to NASA Headquarters in 1967 to manage the deployment of the Voyager Mars Surface Laboratory at NASA Headquarters. He later became Director of Planetary Exploration in 1970 and was instrumental in sending spacecraft to all planets in the Solar System. Following his stint at NASA Headquarters, Mr. Kraemer was an Assistant Director at Goddard prior to his retirement.

LUNAR Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) IS ON ITS WAY TO THE MOON : The LADEE spacecraft was successfully launched from the WFF on the evening of September 6th. Historically, the WFF is known for the thousands of extremely successful suborbital launches. Apparently, WFF missions are now going orbital and Director Bill Wrobel will no doubt inform us about recent WFF successes at the GRAA Luncheon on November 12th. The LADEE launch somehow also prompted an image of a local amphibian launch. If you haven’t seen the image, go to Ye Ed figured it was just a typical WFF mosquito until he was able to enlarge the image.

ANTARES LAUNCH FROM THE WFF TO THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION (ISS) : As we go to press, Orbital Sciences’ Antares rocket is scheduled to launch the Cygnus spacecraft on a demonstration mission from the WFF to the International Space Station on September 18th. We wish it a successful launch/mission and will provide an update in the November issue.

BERMUDA WAS THE LAUNCHING PAD FOR MEMBER’S NASA CAREER : Bermuda-born member Robert (Bob) Spearing visited family and friends there in June and, according to an article in the Royal Gazette newspaper, that is where he initially developed a passion to become an engineer and over his career “climbed the ranks to become Deputy Associate Administrator of Space Communications from 1998 until his retirement in 2007.” To read more about Bob’s early days in Bermuda, go to

WRINGING OUT A WET TOWEL IN SPACE : Check out to see what happens when an astronaut wrings out a wet towel in the ISS.