NASA Podcasts

Historic Recordings: KSC Report 50, Woman Engineer, Interview with Geraldine Kaplan
1968
 
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Sound of rocket engines firing

LAUNCH COMMENTATOR:
"Five... four..."

NARRATOR:
KSC Reports... a weekly coverage of events at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's John F. Kennedy Space Center.

Sound of rocket

NARRATOR:
Women are playing important roles in our national space program. At the Kennedy Space Center, a substantial number of technicians and engineers are women with abilities that have earned them a place on the team that launches rockets and spacecraft on space exploration missions. Geraldine Kaplan is a data systems engineer working with the launch computers used with the powerful Saturn V rockets to be used to send Apollo astronauts to the moon. Miss Kaplan is 22, a native of Webster Groves, Mo., who went to high school here in Florida.

KAPLAN:
I graduated from the University of Miami, Coral Gables, Fla., in June of 1966. Getting out of high school, on my way to college, I guess I was influenced by my parents, plus the fact that my brother was an electrical engineer and also because of the importance of the place or the role of the computer in today's living.

NARRATOR:
The checkout of the Saturn V rocket in preparation for launch is handled by computers following the directions given by engineers in the Launch Control Center more than three miles from the launch pad.

KAPLAN:
Our computers' supports in our launch countdown sequences and at this time, data is being logged on magnetic tapes, tapes similar to your home recording type tapes. This data that is recorded, logged, is evaluated after launch, post-launch, is evaluated through post-processing program, which we have, it's a post-processing package in particular, which the data is taken off the tape and formatted in a usable form.

NARRATOR:
The data on the magnetic tapes is a record of all the commands sent to the launch vehicle, and a chronological log of the condition of all onboard systems. With this information, engineers can often determine the cause of any malfunctions that may develop during a mission. Miss Kaplan is currently working on a special project to determine the durability of computer recording tape.

KAPLAN:
This special project is a test of our particular magnetic tapes used in logging of data. They are similar, as I said, to your home recording tapes, 14-inch reel, 2,400-foot tape reel, one-half inch tape. We are writing records on the tape, and reading them, and just see how long the tape actually can be used, writing and then reading the same area in particular of the tape.

NARRATOR:
Miss Kaplan agrees that ability counts at the nation's spaceport. Perseverance is another needed quality, she says, for personnel.

KAPLAN:
You can become disappointed or disillusioned quickly. But, I think this is just something that you find, any kind of, any kind of work. I think for women in particular, they don't get the kind of encouragement, in high school and particularly in college, to go into scientific fields, engineering. This I feel is one of the reasons you don't see women in this kind of work too many, not because, let's say, people aren't hiring. I say women aren't available, there aren't that many available because they aren't encouraged to launch a career in scientific, or engineering, in my particular case .

NARRATOR:
The big thrill for all spaceport workers, Miss Kaplan believes, is to watch the 364-foot-high Saturn V rocket thunder off the launch pad, knowing that the work you had done made possible a successful mission.

LAUNCH COMMENTATOR:
"Five...four..."

Sound of rocket engines

NARRATOR:
This has been KSC Reports... a weekly coverage of events at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's John F. Kennedy Space Center.

Sound of rocket engines

 
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