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


September 2014 30th Year of Publication


September 9 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 Friday, September 5th. Dr. Robert Farquhar, GRAA member and author of “Fifty Years on the Space Frontier: Halo Orbits, Comets, Asteroids, and More,” will showcase his recent adventures and challenges with the International Sun-Earth Explorer-3/International Cometary Explorer (ISEE-3/ICE) Reboot Project in a talk entitled “Teaching Old Spacecraft New Tricks”.
October 14 Mark your calendar for the GRAA Luncheon at 11:30 a.m. Dr. Robert Cahalan, Director of Sun-Climate Research at Goddard, will be our keynote speaker with his topic of “The Sun, the Moon, and Climate.”

COMMENTS FROM RON BROWNING, GRAA PRESIDENT: Our luncheon speaker for August, Dr. Malcolm Niedner, Deputy Senior Project Scientist for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), described the JWST and current integration status as well as the differences between it and the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). He showed recent photos and videos of assembly, integration and testing of the two major systems being built at Goddard, the Integrated Science Instrument Module (ISIM) and the 18-segment telescope mirror. JWST’s infrared telescope’s light gathering power is 25 square meters compared to 4.5 square meters for the HST. An HST image was shown with expected JWST results superimposed over it to illustrate the depth of Infrared resolution on the same scene. JWST is an all-purpose observatory and has four observation goals: first light, star and planet formations, evolution of galaxies, and the origin of life. The ISIM has four cryogenically cooled instruments integrated into a lightweight carbon fiber structure and is currently in the thermal vacuum chamber.

Eighteen hexagon segments of ground beryllium make up the telescope mirror. They are assembled in a structure to an accuracy of .002 inch, but to achieve on orbit accuracy, each segment has seven degrees of controllable movement freedom. A five-layer Mylar thermal size (the size of a tennis court) protects the instruments for solar input. A cryogenic test is planned in 2017 in JSC’s Apollo chamber to verify end-to-end telescope through instrument operation. Launch tentatively scheduled for 2018 on an Ariane-5 rocket from French Guiana. Dr. Niedner closed by showing a simulation video of the JWST’s on-orbit deployment after fairing release which was spectacular. First the solar arrays deployed, followed by the five-layer sun shield and then the segmented mirror and telescope. Only telemetry will monitor this activity as there are no onboard cameras to observe. The daily status of the spacecraft’s test and integration, updated every 60 seconds, can be viewed on the JSWT website at

As a bonus for the dog days of summer, Bill Chambers, whose day job is Test Engineer in the Mechanical Systems Division (Code 540) of the Applied Engineering and Technology Directorate (AETD), entertained luncheon attendees with a magic show. First he used a seemingly empty bag to demonstrate how Frank Cepollina kept finding wads of dollars for HST servicing missions over the years. Then he did several card and rope tricks and ended with a small guillotine that Alberta Moran bravely placed her arm into which fortunately was not severed like the carrot Bill used to introduce the trick.

NIMBUS PROGRAM CELEBRATION TEASE: NASA Goddard will be commemorating the achievements of the Nimbus Program at the Visitor Center on October 8th. Details about this special celebratory event will be published in the October newsletter.

TREASURER’S REPORT: Treasurer Bob Wigand received tax-deductible contributions from the following members: James Barcus, Robert Eaves, Ronald Felice, Thomas Kelsall, Robert Langley, Francis Logan, William McGunigal, John and Delores Voelkel, and Thomas Underwood.

RECENT RETIREES: Paul A. Deminco, Melinda A. Deyarmin, Deborah M. Halanick, Dr. William K.-M. Lau, Min Namkung, Josephine K. San, Stanley R. Scott, Nancy L. Stafford, Helen L. Sullivan, Mary Ellen Verceles, and Mildred Z. Walters.

THOUGHT FOR SEPTEMBER: Understand first of all that bats have to sleep upside down. That said, there were two old bats resting high up in a tree when one asked the other, “Do you know what I fear most about old age?” The other bat asked, “No, what?” The first bat responded in a quite obvious and most convincing answer, “Incontinence!”


•  Lynne G. Keffer, of Beltsville, MD, passed away on May 29th. She worked at NASA Headquarters as Associate Program Manager of NASA’s Space Grant College and Fellowship Program and then transferred to Goddard as a Technical Writer, Editor, and Directives Manager in the Management and Operations Directorate. She retired in 2011 after 20 years of service with NASA.

•  William S. Muney, of Lanham, MD, passed away on July 29th. He was a Solar Physicist and Scientific Data Analyst who started at Goddard in 1963 and retired in 2005. For most of his career he worked in various assignments in the Laboratory for Astronomy and Solar Physics, but then in the early 2000’s he moved to the Electrical Engineering Division of AETD.

•  William E. Willis, of Linthicum Heights, MD, passed away on August 8th. He was an Electronics Engineer at Goddard and was involved with the tracking stations for the Mercury and Apollo missions.

FROM THE GODDARD ARCHIVES – IT HAPPENED IN SEPTEMBER: Fifty years ago, on September 5, 1964, an Atlas-Agena B rocket launched Orbiting Geophysical Observatory-1 (OGO-1) from Cape Canaveral, FL. The purpose of the OGO-1 spacecraft, the first of a series of six OGO’s, was to conduct diversified geophysical experiments to obtain a better understanding of the Earth as a planet and to develop and operate a standardized observatory-type satellite. Due to a boom deployment failure shortly after orbital injection, the spacecraft was put into a permanent spin mode of 5 rpm about the Z axis. Tracking was accomplished by using radio beacons and a range and range-rate S-band transponder. Due to the boom failure, the best operating mode for the data-handling system was the use of one of the wideband transmitters and the directional antenna. During September 1964, acceptable data acquisition was achieved over 70% of the orbital path. By June 1969, data acquisition was limited to 10% of the orbital path. OGO-1 was placed in a stand-by status November 25, 1969, and all support was terminated November 1, 1971.

CORRECTION TO THE AUGUST GODDARD ARCHIVES ITEM: The Nimbus-1 write-up in the August newsletter stipulated that the failure of the second stage of the Thor-Agena rocket put the satellite in a highly elliptical orbit and caused first orbit acquisition to be missed at the Spaceflight Tracking and Data Acquisition site in Alaska. Then we mentioned that “the acquisition process recovered by the second orbit thanks to Dr. Joseph Siry’s manual orbit determination by using Minitrack Network data.” It has been brought to our attention that the individual who made it happen was George Harris, rather than Dr. Siry. So George, you deserve both our thanks and our apologies.

GRAA BOARD OF DIRECTORS (BOD) TO UPDATE BY-LAWS: The GRAA BOD has determined it is necessary to amend the By-Laws by including a process for filling board vacancies that may occur between biennial election years. The new provisions will be made available and voted on by members attending the September luncheon.

GRAA MEMBER PETER WETZEL PUBLISHES NEW BOOK: P. J. Wetzel announces the publication of his new Epic Fantasy/Sci-Fi novel, ‘Out of Crystal Ice,’ set in the far distant future. It is the first book of six in the series and begins an exploration of speculative answers to some of the grandest questions (e.g., the origin of the universe, what came ‘before,’ the nature of Dark Energy and its changing role with time). You can read more about the book on Peter’s blog at The book is available for purchase through Peter’s publisher, All Things That Matter Press, at or through Amazon at