P.O. Box 163, Lanham, MD 20703-0163


July 2014 30th Year of Publication


July 8 Mark your calendar for the GRAA Luncheon at 11:30 a.m. at the Greenbelt American Legion Post #136 at 6900 Greenbelt Road. Reservations are required due to our change of venue, so please contact Alberta Moran either on her cell phone at 301-910-0177 or via e-mail at no later than noon on Thursday, July 3rd. Dr. David Rosage, Program Director in Goddard’s Office of Education, will be bringing interns (and perhaps some mentors) to highlight projects they are working on this year. Since it is always a treat to see the passion and enthusiasm exhibited by these talented young scientists and engineering students, please attend and provide them encouragement to pursue potential NASA careers.
August 12 Mark your calendar for the GRAA Luncheon at 11:30 a.m. Dr. Malcolm Niedner, currently Deputy Senior Project Scientist-Technical for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) and formerly Deputy Senior Project Scientist for the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), will be our featured speaker and will share up-to-date information about both missions.

COMMENTS FROM RON BROWNING, GRAA PRESIDENT: At the June luncheon, GRAA member Dr. Igor Eberstein presented his concept for a nuclear-powered spaceship. His rationale for going to nuclear-powered rockets for human space exploration beyond low Earth orbit is that chemical rockets have reached their limit and are too complicated and unreliable. Dr. Eberstein proposes a uranium-powered, superheated steam rocket housed in a ceramic core to preclude propellant erosion from burn through as seen in graphic cores. He believes superheated steam performance can be as good as a liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen chemical system. A development strategy is needed, starting with nuclear power technology to incrementally improve to create a workable steam-powered rocket. Dr. Eberstein’s proposal assumes an international collaborative effort of an Apollo-sized budget (equivalent to 10% of the current Department of Defense budget) to place humans on Mars using nuclear-powered rockets. Shielding from cosmic radiation to protect humans in flight would also need to be developed. As a start, he would like to set up a design team of University of Maryland physics, chemistry, and engineering students to design a steam-powered rocket and then have NASA Goddard and Glenn build a prototype to test at the Wallops Flight Facility (WFF). Dr. Eberstein’s talk created a lot of interest and numerous questions, some of which indicated a healthy skepticism of the concept’s feasibility and required temperature for rocketry.

The 2014 edition of the GRAA Membership Directory was distributed along with the June newsletter. I hope all members received their copy based on information we have in our membership database. I extend sincere gratitude to the handful of members who expended their considerable time and talents in assembling and distributing the package to some 2,500 members, as it entailed stuffing, labeling, sorting, bundling, bagging, and delivering the heavy sacks to the Bulk Mail Facility. I’ve had plenty of experience in the past with this complex task, so this year I decided to be on vacation in FL when it was scheduled! Since printing and postage costs for the new directory were around $6500.00, please consider making a tax-deductible donation (if you haven’t already done so) to help keep our treasury sustainable. Checks sent to GRAA at the address above will be greatly appreciated.

FROM THE GODDARD ARCHIVES – IT HAPPENED IN JULY: On July 1, 1966, a Delta E1 rocket launched Explorer 33/Interplanetary Monitoring Platform-D (aka: IMP-D) from Cape Canaveral, FL. It was designed to be the first US spacecraft to enter lunar orbit, where it was to study interplanetary charged particles, magnetic fields, and solar x-rays. IMP-D’s second-stage launch gave it too much velocity, so its retrorocket was unable to slow it down enough to be captured by the Moon’s gravity. Instead, it continued to fly in a very long elliptical orbit around Earth that stretched more than 50,000 kilometers beyond the Moon’s orbit. Nevertheless, it returned key data on Earth’s magnetic field, interplanetary magnetic field, and radiation. Contact was lost with the satellite on September 21, 1971.

TREASURER’S REPORT: Treasurer Bob Wigand received tax-deductible contributions from the following members: Mary Adkins, Walter Gates, John Hrastar, Elizabeth Jay, Aleta Johnson (in memory of Bob Keefe), Raymond Mazur, Thomas Page, Carl Roberts (in memory of Oscar “Ozzie” Osvatics), Nancy Roman, Thomas Underwood, and William Worrall.

THOUGHT FOR JULY: Ye Ed has decided to change calling his bathroom the “john” and has renamed it “jim” because he feels so much better being able to tell his doctor that his daily regimen includes going to the “jim” every morning.


•  Helen M. Conroy, of Annapolis, MD, passed away on June 1st. She was a Personnel Specialist in the Placement Branch of the Organization and Personnel Division (currently the Office of Human Capital Management). She was an active member of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association.

•  Charles G. Dan, Jr., of Annapolis, MD, passed away on May 29th. He was a Mechanical Engineer/Senior Test Manager for many projects, most notably HST. During the early years he worked in the Test and Evaluation Division and later was Assistant Head of the Thermal Engineering Branch in the Applied Engineering Division. Later still he worked for several years in the System Reliability and Safety Office of the Office of Flight Assurance.

•  Robert S. Fraser, of Silver Spring, MD, passed away on April 28th. He was a Meteorologist who worked over time in the Meteorology Branch of the Laboratory to Meteorology & Earth Sciences as well as the Climate & Radiation Branch of the Laboratory for Atmospheric Sciences, becoming an expert in remote sensing and light scattering.

•  Carl L. Geiger, of Surfside Beach, SC, passed away on May 15th. He was an Offset Cameraman who in the 1960’s worked in the Administrative Services Branch of the Management Services and Supply Division and later in the Printing & Duplicating Section of the Administration Support Branch in the Technical Information & Administrative Support Division.

•  Olivia T. Gunter, of Lanham, MD, passed away on May 26th. She was a Procurement Specialist who worked in the Industry Assistance Section of the Procurement Analysis Branch in the Procurement Support Division. She later moved to the Procurement Support Branch and then to the Procurement Operations Division.

•  Ford R. Kalil, of College Park, MD, passed away on April 3rd. In the1960’s he was an Electrical Engineer working with optical, microwave, and laser communications in the Tracking Systems Division and later moved to the Office of Technical Management in the Engineering Division, the Instrument Concept Design Office of the Instrument Division, and the Microwave Technology Branch of the Electrical Engineering Division.

•  Arlene J. Preston, of Greenbelt, MD, passed away on May 12th. She was a Secretary in the Network Engineering Branch of the Network Engineering Division and later became Administrative Assistant to the Chief of the Procurement Operations Division in the Management Operations Directorate.

•  Wallace E. Nobbs, Jr., of Salisbury, MD, passed away on June 13th. He worked in the Sounding Rocket Program at WFF and was custodian of the storage/use of radioactive rocket sources/propellants.

•  Robert J. Wilkinson, of Brooklyn Park, MD, passed away on May 17th. He was an Electrical Engineer who in the 1960’s worked in the Spacecraft Systems Branch of the Spacecraft Systems & Projects Division and later in the Assurance Management & Test Policy Office of the Office of Flight Assurance.

APOLLO MISSION & SPACE SHUTTLE CELEBRATION: A luncheon celebration to commemorate the 45th Anniversary of Landing on the Moon (July 20, 1969) and Thirty Years of Supporting Space Shuttle Missions is scheduled from Noon to 5 p.m. (with the buffet line starting at 1:00 p.m.) on July 27th (Sunday) at Greenbelt American Legion Post #136 (6900 Greenbelt Road). The cost is $20.00 per person payable to Len Switalski, 9508 Gray Mouse Way, Columbia, MD 21046 not later than July 6th: Please include your email on your check so Len can acknowledge your ticket(s). It is first come, first served, so once capacity is reached you will be placed on a wait list. Please use the Legion’s rear entrance and sign in upon arrival. Tables will be available to display your Apollo/Shuttle memorabilia and please wear your Apollo/Shuttle mission badge if you have one. Please provide Len with related anecdotes/comments if you cannot attend the party and they will be read to the celebrants. If you know of others who supported Apollo/Shuttle programs who are not GRAA members, please forward this information to them. For questions, please contact Tom Janoski at 717-637-6485 ( ) or Len Switalski at 301-604-1856 ( ).