Carol J. Hamilton -- Making Sure Everything Goes Right
Project Safety Manager Carol J. Hamilton knows she has done her job right when nothing bad happens.
Carol J. Hamilton
Project Safety Manager
Formal Job Classification:
Organization She Works For:
Code 321, Systems Safety Branch, Mission Support Division, Safety and Mission Assurance (Directorate)
What is most interesting about your role here at Goddard?
As a systems safety engineer, it is my job to review spacecraft flight systems and ground system designs as well as operating procedures to ensure that they are safe. I also perform hazard analyses, give safety presentations and monitor hazardous operations. Occasionally, I get involved in mishap investigations. My last one took me all the way to the Australian Outback.
Teamwork and collaboration are extremely important. My job requires understanding all the systems that are part of the spacecraft. A spacecraft can have, on average, ten different systems and numerous instruments, which are used to take science data. So I may have to work closely with more than ten different teams. I interface with every one of the spacecraft’s teams to make sure that all systems are safe and all hazards are controlled. I know that I have done my job well when nothing bad happens to the spacecraft and the people around it.
What is the coolest thing you’ve ever done as part of your job at Goddard?
It is very cool to being involved in all the phases of a spacecraft project; to see the satellite grow from a design concept on paper to a real spacecraft being
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Photo of Carol J. Hamilton. Credit: NASA/W. Hrybyk
launched into space. I like watching it come together piece by piece. Seeing, let alone working with, a spacecraft is really cool, especially for the first time. It is very exciting participating in test and launch activities and really cool visiting the areas that most people do not get to see at all, such as the view from the top of a launch pad. I once got to stand about four feet from a Shuttle’s nose.
What makes Goddard a great place to work?
I love being exposed to the variety of activities that keep us on the forefront of space technology and all the exciting opportunities that this affords.
What lessons or words of wisdom would you pass along to somebody just starting their career at Goddard?
I have been here since 1991. I would tell new people to ask questions both about the things you are involved in and also things you know nothing about. The more you ask, the more people will be willing to tell you about what they are doing. It is fascinating. This way you will find out as much as you can about all the wonderful things we do here.
Is there something surprising about how you act away from work?
In 1988, I co-founded the SPECTRUM Youth Enrichment Program, which is a Saturday community youth outreach program based at People’s Congregational United Church of Christ in Washington, D.C. I have worked with them ever since. The program is for third through sixth grade children. We do a variety of activities and field trips designed to deal with the spiritual, physical, educational, and relationship aspects of growing up. We have even brought our kids to Goddard’s Visitor Center several times.
Do you have a favorite book, magazine, movie, or TV show?
My favorite author is Walter Mosley who wrote the Easy Rawlins detective series including “The Devil in a Blue Dress” and many other terrific books. His writing is very descriptive, artful, and soulful. I truly love his use of words.
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NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.