Goddard Retirees and Alumni Association

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


APRIL 2008                                            http://graa.gsfc.nasa.gov                        24th Year of Publication



April 8

Mark your calendar for the GRAA Luncheon at 11:30 a.m.  Craig Tooley, Project Manager for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) mission, or another project representative will present an overview and status update of the mission that is currently scheduled to be launched late this year.  LRO is the first mission in NASA’s Vision for Space Exploration, a plan to return to the moon and then travel to Mars and beyond.  Reservations are required, so please call Alberta Moran at 301-937-7762 no later than noon on Friday, March 7th.

May 13

Mark your calendar for the GRAA Luncheon at 11:30 a.m. 


COMMENTS FROM RON BROWNING, GRAA PRESIDENT:  Attendees at the March luncheon were treated to an early celebration of the 50th anniversary of the launch of Vanguard 1 on March 17, 1958.  Several attendees brought Vanguard memorabilia that filled up five tables.  Among mementoes on hand were a large full-color photograph of Vanguard 1 provided by the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), a nine-foot  mahogany model of the launch vehicle brought by Persus Suddeth and her son, and an aluminum model of the launch vehicle and a 5.6-inch model of the satellite provided by Chris Hagen (Dr. Hagen’s son).  Among other items on display was an original “Sequence of Events” chart listing the timing for all events that had to occur in order for the vehicle to lift off and for the three-stage launch vehicle to operate properly and two oil paintings of the launch provided by Roger Ratliff. 


As a lead-in to Ron Muller’s Vanguard 1 talk, Ed Pearson exhibited photos of two recent 50th anniversary celebrations of satellite launches that preceded Vanguard 1.  He had photos of the Russian site from which Sputnik was launched that he took last October on the 50th anniversary of that historic event.  He also had photos of the Cape Kennedy blockhouse and launch complex that was used for the Explorer 1 launch.


Ron Muller showed a movie of the launch that he had combined with a recently-discovered sound recording of the actual countdown which is available to watch/listen to on Google Video.  Go to http://video.google.com and search on Vanguard 1 or go directly to http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=1348113373302579345.  Ron then provided a slide presentation originally created by Roger Easton, Sr.  A link to the slides can be found on the Vanguard 50th anniversary web site. Go to http://www.vanguard-one-50th-anniversary.org/links.html and click on the link to Roger’s slide presentation.  There are many other links on the anniversary site that you may have an interest in checking out.


Wonderful nostalgic (and somewhat truly amazing) stories were told by the luncheon attendees who made the Vanguard 1 mission happen so successfully 50 years ago.  The luncheon provided an excellent precursor to the “official” anniversary celebration held at NRL on March 17th.


The election of GRAA board members will be held in June and we are currently seeking nominations to the seven-member board.  Members may nominate themselves or anyone in the Goddard Retiree and Alumni community.  Nominations may be mailed to the GRAA address at the top of this page or sent via e-mail to me at arkabee@comcast.net.  Ballots will be included in the May newsletter and voting will take place at the June 10th luncheon.     


GRAA MAILINGS:  If you no longer wish to receive GRAA mailings, please send a note to our Lanham address or an e-mail to Dave Moulton at davidlmoulton@comcast.net.  If you have moved or want to make corrections to the address on your mailing label, write us or send an e-mail to Strat Laios at stratlaios@comcast.net.  If you already receive your newsletter via e-mail, please let Strat know when your e-mail address changes.  If you are interested in receiving the newsletter by e-mail, simply notify Strat.

THOUGHT FOR THE MONTH:  Retirement is when broadness of the mind and narrowness of the waist trade places.



§   April 4, 1983:  The original Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS-1), launched from the Space Shuttle Challenger, went from almost “lost in space” to a remarkable example of NASA’s ‘can do, never quit’ attitude.  This year TDRS-1 celebrates 25 years of outstanding service.  After deployment, the spacecraft’s upper stage failed.  Engineers at Goddard came to TDRS-1’s rescue using the spacecraft’s tiny, one-pound thrusters.  They used the thrusters, over several months, to nudge the satellite into a geosynchronous Earth orbit.  TDRS-1 tracked low Earth-orbiting satellites, enabling NASA to issue commands and receive telemetry through most of their orbit.  Working solo until spacecraft were added to the TDRS System, TDRS-1 provided more communication coverage, in support of Shuttle missions, than the entire network of NASA tracking stations had provided to all previous Shuttle missions.      



§         Elva Bailey, of Murray, KY, passed away on March 16th from double pneumonia at age 82.  A veteran of World War II, he was an Education Specialist in Goddard’s Office of Public Affairs.

§         Robert T. Fitzgerald, of Denver, CO, passed away on March 11th at age 88.  He was an Aerospace Engineer at Goddard and was awarded several patents during his career. 

§         Hans M. Mende, of Port Charlotte, FL, passed away on February 24th at age 80 following a long illness.  During his career at Goddard, he was a Mechanical Engineering Technician and worked principally in the Building 26 machine shop.

§         Ralph D. (Dave) Miner, Jr., of New Carrollton, MD, passed away from a heart attack on February 14th.  Still employed at Goddard at the time of his passing, he was a Program Analyst in the Planning Office of the Facilities Management Division.  He was an accomplished dobro (resonator guitar) player, performing with several different musical groups over the years.

§         Howard W. (Bill) Shaffer, of Catlett, VA, passed away on February 22nd following a long illness.  At Goddard, he served as an Engineer in the Tracking and Data networks and later became Assistant Division Chief of Tracking and Data Logistics.  He transferred to NASA Headquarters and following his retirement became an executive with American Satellite Corporation.


RECENT RETIREES:  James F. Andary, Donald M. Sawyer, Donna Simonds, and James R. Wang.


NRL CELEBRATES VANGUARD 1 ANNIVERSARY:  March 17th marked NRL’s celebration of 50 years of Vanguard 1.  Many of the 150 Vanguardians who transferred from NRL to form the nucleus of Goddard were in attendance.  A panel of four Vanguard pioneers (Roger Easton, John Townsend, Alton Jones, and Martin Votaw) described the design, development, tests and launch of Vanguard 1 from their experience and perspective.  Several Goddard retirees added comments to the panel discussion from their firsthand knowledge.  Vanguard 1 was the first satellite to use solar cells for onboard power and is in an orbit that will last for millennia.