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"What the Space Shuttle Has Meant to Me..."
 
As the end of the Space Shuttle Program nears, members of the "shuttle family" have submitted their thoughts and sentiments. The following responses have been received to the question, "what has the shuttle program meant to you?"

Steve Cash, Manager, Shuttle Propulsion Office
"Working with the space shuttle team has been one of the greatest experiences in my life. During the last 29 years, I have had the pleasure to be a part of a world-class team. We grew from our successes and learned from our failures. We celebrated together and learned how to disagree when needed. It has been a once-in-a-life-time event. I am so proud of the way the Marshall team has worked together to overcome many obstacles in its path to make the space shuttle a success. We truly grew together. I guess that's why we think of each other as family."

Jody Singer, Deputy Manager, Shuttle Propulsion Office
"For me, working in shuttle is a dream which came true. As a family, we -- the shuttle team -- have experienced the triumphs, difficulties and tragedies associated with human space flight. Working in shuttle has been challenging, rewarding and sometimes intimidating. I am so thankful for the relationships and opportunities to work with and learn from such wonderful, intelligent, committed, and inspiring people. I have learned so much from the entire shuttle team: the contractors, civil servants and support contractors. It is great to work with a group of folks who truly believe we live and survive as a team, a true family. The memories and pride in what we have accomplished will sustain me a lifetime!"

Chris Singer, Deputy Director, Engineering Directorate
"This has been the ride of a lifetime. Being a part of this incredible team that is responsible for developing and operating the first reusable, high performance rocket system is a dream come true for this mechanical engineer from Tennessee. We worked through innumerable technical issues, significant failures, gut wrenching tragedies and still found the tenacity and stick-to-itiveness to never ever give up and keep delivering amazing successes. Thank you, shuttle team!"

Dennis Moore, Chief Engineer, Reusable Solid Rocket Motor Project Office
"I'm very proud of being a part of the Space Shuttle Program. We solved our most difficult problems by working together as a team and applying due diligence to give our astronauts a safe round trip to space. I’m honored to have been part of the space shuttle team that, in my opinion, did it right."

Michael Mitchell, Propulsion Systems Engineering and Integration Office
"What an awesome experience! Working in the Space Shuttle Program gave me a dream to live. It involved me in one of humanity's great achievements, and I got to work alongside some of the greatest minds of all time. It taught me more than I thought possible. I made great friends. Over the years the shuttle gave me, my loved ones and the world a sense of exhilaration, connection, despair and triumph. The adventure has only begun. The Space Shuttle Program personifies what a great people can do, and provides a glimpse of the greatness that lies ahead."

John Brunson, Shuttle Transition Project Office
"As son of a 'KSC-NASA employed, Apollo-era' father, I grew up in Titusville, Fla., hearing about the big Saturn rockets and watching them lift off. I was so inspired by my father’s work with NASA and what was accomplished, that I determined to one day be a part of NASA. In 1980, I was 20-year old lucky enough to be hired by Rockwell International as a shuttle technician. I'll never forget the first time walking under space shuttle Columbia in the orbiter processing facility at Kennedy Space Center, Fla., or my first job as lead technician working on Columbia'’s vertical stabilizer. Fast forward to 1989. With degree in hand I was hired by Marshall Space Flight Center to work on space shuttle main engine controllers. My career took me away from the Space Shuttle Program for a few years, but now I'm supporting the shuttle transition and retirement project program. During these 31 years a lot has changed, but one thing that has remained constant is my pride in NASA. I truly know there's no other job in the world that would have brought the satisfaction that working for NASA -- on or around the shuttle program -- has. Those lucky enough to have worked for the program have contributed to something of national significance, and the technology generated from the program has improved life on our planet. My father's generation, my generation and other generations that work on NASA programs are proud of their contributions."

James Odom, Manager of External Tank Project Office, 1970-1981
"I had the pleasure of serving as the first external tank project manager. Some of the most exciting moments were being a part of the largest lightweight flight hardware production program NASA has ever undertaken, modifying and preparing NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility for a major production program, qualifying the structure for all flight regimes; and supporting the first six space shuttle launches in the control room at Kennedy Space Center, Fla. Other rewarding experiences were working with Bob Lindstrom, former shuttle propulsion manager, and his team; working with all the great and highly qualified people in the External Tank Project Office; the excellent prime contractor team at Martin-Marietta; and the Marshall Space Flight Center management and engineering support personnel."

Tom Milner, Reusable Solid Rocket Booster Project Office
"It's been a great feeling to be part of the space shuttle team. A funny thing happened on the voyage, they, the shuttle team, became my family. We have dreamed big, ventured on wild seas, lost sight of the land a few times and found stars to guide us on our journey. We expanded our horizons and learned lessons. I can truly say I was blessed by our Creator to be part of the greatest human adventure of all time."

Steve Roy, Public and Employee Communications Office
"I joined the shuttle team late in the program and late in my time at NASA, in 2007. I saw many shuttle launches during Spacelab days, beginning in 1991, when I provided public affairs support to the science experiment efforts. My first exposure to the shuttle program as a public affairs officer came in September 2005 when I went to Michoud Assembly Facility to assist following Hurricane Katrina. In February 2007, I was traveling from the Orlando Airport down to Kennedy to attend my first Flight Readiness Review at exactly the same moment a thunderstorm passed over the launch pad and pounded space shuttle Atlantis’ external tank ET-124 with hail. My next memorable event was the train derailment in Myrtlewood, Ala., in May 2007. What a sight: locomotives and motor segments lying on their sides in an Alabama swamp. During the four years I have supported the Shuttle Propulsion Office, it has been wild, exciting and rewarding; mainly because the team members have been so straightforward and helpful. The best moments for me were 'Sailing with NASA' aboard Pegasus and Liberty Star and blogging about the trip, ships, crew members and the U.S. Space Program. Shuttle will always be the best of times in NASA and sometimes the toughest. Shuttle people are the best. It's been an honor serving as your PAO."

Linda Posey, DP Associates Inc.
"I was a civil service employee working on space shuttle from 1970 to 1998 and returned as a contractor in 2007 to help with shuttle retirement. Over the years I have worked with some of the very finest NASA has to offer. Roy Godfrey, the first Space Shuttle Manager; Bob Lindstrom, Shuttle Projects Manager, 1975 to 1985; George Hardy, the first Solid Rocket Booster manager; Jim Odom, the first External Tank manager; J. R. Thompson, the second Space Shuttle Main Engine manager. I watched these icons work totally unreasonable hours, spend a totally unreasonable amount of time flying around the country, watched them laugh and cry together, saw them take care of each other and each other’s families. I started as a child, of course!, but watched them put together the design, development, testing and first flight; watched them deal with the Challenger accident under Bob Marshall's direction; the motor redesign; the different external tank designs and space shuttle main engine upgrades. It was absolutely the greatest career ride I could ever have hope for --- and I didn't even know enough to hope for it! I repeatedly said, 'I'm in the presence of greatness' -- and boys and girls, was I right! The culture at NASA has changed in many ways, at least from the early days, but the pride is still here. We just need to reawaken that spirit! Makes me wish I could be here to help with whatever comes next!! The Marshall team is great."

Ken Jones, United Space Alliance-Huntsville
"I consider myself very blessed to have been assigned to work on the definition phase of the shuttle program in the early 1970's. I have worked shuttle ever since. It was very rewarding to have been part of the design, development and qualification effort of the solid rocket motor and to have been a participant in the launch and successful flight of the very first -- STS-1. That was one of the proudest moments in my life. Challenger was very depressing for all of us, but being assigned to the motor redesign activities helped ease the pain. I was then appointed Chief Engineer in the Reusable Solid Rocket Motor Project Office in 1988 and supported all shuttle flights through 1997. I retired from NASA and went to work for shuttle contractor United Space Alliance and I am still supporting shuttle flights. Every launch is the same, in that they never get easier from the standpoint of being able to relax. I have had a very rewarding career and am very proud of being part of all the successes and accomplishments after Return to Flight. I was there at the beginning and would very much like to be there at the finish."

Alisa Shivers, Space Shuttle Main Engine Project Office
"Working for the Space Shuttle Program means: I get to work with the smartest people in the world; I get to be a rocket scientist; I get to do important work; I get to celebrate a job well done every day and especially on launch day; I get to learn all the ways that space program innovations and science improve quality of life; and most of all I get to have a job that I love, one where I am challenged and learning everyday!"

Craig Sumner, United Space Alliance-Huntsville
"The Space Shuttle Program gave me challenging work, a sense of accomplishment, a personally rewarding career, but most of all an association with some of the brightest men and women in the world! I just want to salute the government and contractor team for a job well done and thank our astronauts for exploring the endless bounds of low Earth orbit!"

R. J. Schwinghamer, who retired as Marshall’s associate technical director 1999
"I came to Huntsville in 1957 after having read an article by Wernher von Braun, and another article title 'Our Germans,' written by a Huntsvillian. I signed on in October 1957 and as a member of the von Braun team, became immersed in all Marshall projects from then on. During the Space Shuttle Program, our Materials Laboratory pioneered new materials for the turbine blades and bearings, thermal protection systems and specifications for controlling stress corrosion cracking of materials. I also led many failure investigations and we perfected a large-scale Fault Tree Analysis System used to return orbiter Columbia back to flight after a six-month stand-down due to a hydrogen leak. These activities were very gratifying when taken in the context as part of contributions made by the Marshall Center. But in retrospect, most important was camaraderie and professionalism of my colleagues at Marshall, Johnson Space Center in Houston and at NASA in general. It was sheer delight to work at Marshall."

Christopher Riley, United Space Alliance-Huntsville
"As a fresh-out-of-college engineer, I have been filled with awe and gratitude for the five- and-a-half-years I spent working in the Space Shuttle Program. People across the program have exemplified a high benchmark of qualities that I intend to carry with me the remainder of my career and life. It is the pride in their own work, their sense of community and common purpose, and above all technical excellence that I shall hold most dear. Even through setbacks and outright failures, the program and its people have shown how to persevere through adversity and improve one’s self. The Space Shuttle Program shall remain as much of a part of me, as the legacy of the shuttle shall have in advancing America's and the world’s future endeavors in space."

Sherman Avans, External Tank Project Office
"My experience can be summed up in one word: opportunity! The opportunity to work on the best team in the world, to work with people who have pride in what they do and are committed to accomplishing our mission, to continually learn from what we do. I’ve had the opportunity to experience new things almost every day. And finally, I've had the opportunity to experience success and failure and to take valuable lessons from both. The memories will always be with me!"

Brenda Sutherland, DP Associates Inc.
"The Space Shuttle Program was the highlight of my 37-year- civil service-career. It has been an extraordinary experience because I had the honor of participating in a program from the drawing board to flight to wheels down! I had the privilege of serving those who had the vision of a space shuttle in the late 1960's; the Space Shuttle Main Engine Project Manager, 1974-1981; Associate Directors of Engineering, 1981 through Challenger ; on to defining data requirements for payloads and experiments to be flown on the shuttle; and now returning as a contractor supporting the Transition and Retirement's closeout of the Marshall Center's shuttle records! Where in the world can you get an opportunity like that? The experiences, challenges and the people make me who I am today. The knowledge and skills gained have been an education beyond my expectations. It allowed me to continue my Dad's legacy with the Space Program. My wish is that the members of NASA now and those to come experience what I have lived and achieve even greater goals."

John Chapman, retired as External Tank Project manager in 2010
It is a flying machine unlike any other machine that has ever flown: it takes off like a rocket and lands like an airplane; accelerates from zero to 17,500 mph and back to zero. On board are the passions, the hopes and the imagination of millions of people from around the world. And it does this amazing feat over and over and over again. It has been the stuff of dreams since humans first gazed up at the heavens. I spent almost four decades as a member of the team responsible for building and flying this incredible machine. Every single day was an honor and a privilege.

Charles Knight, Bastion Technologies Inc.
During a visit to Kennedy Space Center, Fla., in February 2009, I was standing on the top level of the fixed service structure at launch pad 39A with my Kennedy host Bradley Carlson. "I don't get up here as much as I used to," he said, "so when I do, I like to stop and just look at the stack awhile." We both stood in silence for several minutes, looking over the handrail at the vehicle queued up for the STS-119 mission. Earlier, when we stepped out of the elevator onto the platform, I noticed a rainstorm approaching from the West. A mild breeze was strengthening into a wind and I knew our time would be limited by weather. But for a few moments, as waves from the Atlantic Ocean roared in to shore on the far side of the Discovery orbiter, I stood there with Bradley and silently contemplated: 8 million pounds of thrust, the power of nature (the Atlantic) juxtaposed against the power of human aspiration (the shuttle); the irony of the political capital that a young American President Kennedy sought to glean from the vision; the gifts of a man born into the Prussian landed nobility (von Braun); the International Space Station orbiting overhead; the circuitous career path that resulted in me standing on the launch tower that blustery February afternoon. When the rain began to spatter across the pad, we descended from our perch and took refuge with a tour of the mobile launch platform. Later that day, Bradley remarked to me that the further you progress in your career, the more you are paid for what you know, instead of for what you do. Since that day, I have wondered just how much more humankind knows about our planet, about our universe, and, perhaps most importantly, about ourselves because of America's space faring efforts. Like my attempt to absorb and contemplate the meaning of the awesome sight of the shuttle stack with the Atlantic Ocean as backdrop, pondering NASA's contribution to human knowledge exhausts and numbs the mind. My own tiny part in this vast and grand effort has seemed like a gift to me.

John Pea, Program Planning and Control Office
I believe that the Space Shuttle Program has been one of the premier programs in the world to work on, for both civil service and contractor employees. It is tremendously gratifying to have worked 15 years on such an awesome space transportation system. It is completely mind-boggling when one considers the technical performance and the degree of accuracy that is accomplished each time we fly, not to mention the technology benefits gained for humankind. Here at the Marshall Center, the folks working in the Shuttle Propulsion Office have had a unique opportunity to work in an organization that will be remembered by all as the "Shuttle Family." It has been G-r-e-a-t!

Joan Haas, United Space Alliance
"Working on the Space Shuttle Program has been a tremendous privilege. We get to see the fruits of our labor not only in a magnificent launch of one of the greatest engineering accomplishments, but in the benefits provided by the engineering and science to mankind. We are a part of history. Where else can you get a phone call from space from an astronaut on orbit at the International Space Station thanking you for the work that you do? It doesn’t get any better than this!!!"

Charles Martin, United Space Alliance
"It has been a privilege to work the shuttle program for the Marshall team and for the nation. I first worked for the Space Shuttle Main Engine team, working data reviews and running flight and test performance predictions. I moved to the solid side and wrote the Solid Rocket Booster systems manual. During Return to Flight I worked liftoff debris and ascent debris impact and test, and will finish on shuttle as an aerothermal and test engineer. It has been a great ride and I have been lucky enough to work with a great team and was able to work almost every component of the program. I wouldn’t trade a moment of my time on this program to work anywhere else."

Jennifer Stenger Stevens, Propulsion Engineering and Integration Office
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…an honor, a privilege, a gift. I got to be a part of something much bigger than myself, something that will not be quickly forgotten in the annals of time. I learned of the best and the worst of human ambition; I saw triumph and tragedy. Like the view from the cupola on the International Space Station, we can see the thin layer of life sustaining creation, the incubator of the human soul. Time may dull the senses and fade the tang of setbacks and sorrows, or the joy of revelations and successes. Being a part of the Space Shuttle Program touched my soul and enlarged my view of the world. As we see through the glass darkly, we can discern limitations of human frailty and the potential for greater creations. It is not one single event or decision that brings us to realize the best of what mankind can do while at the same time fostering the worst of global discord. As we contract in vision and discernment, hope remains in me, because I have been given much, that in some small way I, we, each of us together, can help to bring to pass great things again. To overcome the bonds of gravity with power contained within true capability, to reach new habitations in unexplored worlds and to look back on our home with gratitude and wonder. This is the legacy of the Space Shuttle Program. It meant hope.

Luke Henke, United Space Alliance
I swam into existence one week after Young and Crippen landed Columbia on STS-1. Growing up, I never imagined working on a spaceship as old as me, so beautifully complex it would offer engineers and scientists a career of learning, problem solving and fascinating spectacles. Mission after mission the shuttle served this country and the rest of the world as the most versatile payload delivery system imagined and realized by man. Enabling the construction of the International Space Station and making possible the Hubble Space Telescope and Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer missions, just to mention a few, shuttle has provided gifts of science that will be valued by humankind for many years. I began my career shortly after we tragically lost Columbia and her crew. My tasks in Propulsion Systems Engineering and Integration allowed me to meet and work with many people across the program, at multiple NASA centers, and they all have the same dedication, commitment and love for the shuttle. I am honored to have worked on the Space Shuttle Program, and I feel very privileged to have served with folks who treat each other like family. It is time to celebrate our accomplishments and seize the opportunity to continue human exploration beyond shuttle’s reach in a fashion that would make the shuttle workforce proud.

Dale Dugal, Bastion Technologies, Inc.
In April of 1980, I had a job interview with Rockwell International Corporation. My interviewer, soon to be my boss, Richard Green, asked me, “What is a red line?” The only one I could think of was the RPM at which an automobile engine blows. Since that fateful day 30+ years ago, I have been developing, documenting, refining, and verifying the red lines associated with the MSFC supplied propulsion elements at KSC and VAFB. For STS-1, I had the responsibility of developing the Launch Commit Criteria [LCC] for the Development Flight Instrumentation [DFI] Subsystem in each solid rocket booster. I wrote and submitted my first change [of many] to the LCC. I sat in the SRB Engineering Support room in the Huntsville Operations Support Center monitoring the countdown to assure MY red lines were not violated. Once the DFI subsystem powered up and started pulling tape, my tiny contribution to STS-1 was complete. Over these 30+ years, my role in establishing the test, checkout, maintenance and launch commit requirements has expanded to encompass all propulsion elements. It is amazing how many of those requirements and limits that were established for STS-1 are being satisfied, unchanged, for STS-135.

Jay Sambamurthi, Marshall Space Flight Center Resident Office, Promontory, Utah
To this day I remember so well the day 42 years back when NASA landed "the Eagle" on the moon and Neil Armstrong walked the surface of the moon. As a fifteen year old lad standing on a street in South India, all I could do looking up at the moon that night was to wonder at the accomplishments of humanity. I dreamed about working with men and women on future space exploration projects. Yes, one day that dream came true and my perseverance paid off. I have been truly blessed in my last 22 years at NASA. While exploring the intricacies of the Space Shuttle Solid Propulsion system, I have shared in challenges and worked beside men and women who dedicated their lives to extend humanity’s search for the mystery beyond this Earth’s horizons. I have been humbled by the magnificence of the created universe discovered by unmanned probes, telescopes and our human presence in space. My work-related challenges, triumphs and even the disappointments would not have been possible without this incredible, reliable and consistent flying machine called the Space Shuttle.

Emil L. Posey, Marshall Office of Procurement
I've had the privilege of being a part of two great organizations in my life. One of them is Shuttle in general and, in particular, the Marshall Space Flight Center. Having supported Shuttle as a Contracting Officer for the better part of 25 years at Marshall, from almost the beginning I felt more a part of Shuttle than Procurement. I was embraced by and made part of the Shuttle family, and not just at Marshall. This nuance is part of what made Shuttle great. I didn’t experience it in any other program I supported. Some may look at NASA as too bureaucratic, not aggressive enough, too conservative. This may be true in some respects, but it’s certainly not the whole story. Greatness walks our halls, charts our path forward and braves the cosmic unknown. I know, because I encounter it every day – in men and women whose capabilities and dreams are up to the challenges facing us; dedicated people from a wide spectrum of professional disciplines who are forcing the way into deep space – first near Earth, then interplanetary, eventually interstellar. They are pathfinders, and I work with them. NASA's future is uncertain, as is the future of humankind’s advance into space. But I have a strong faith in humanity – its historical and continuing march towards a better future, its constant striving for improvement, its curiosity, its destiny. We will get out there. Our destiny is out there, as is our survival and prosperity as a species. And I was part of our initial steps.

Dave Buras, Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Michoud Assembly Facility
For 37 years I have worked with a group of people that I have grown to know and respect. This group was composed of NASA, USA, Boeing as well as Lockheed Martin people. Their dedication to this program and Mission Success I do not believe could ever be duplicated. What started out as a customer supplier relation changed over time to one of mutual respect. This respect and understanding for the opinions of others are difficult to understand in today's working environment, but worked for the shuttle program. The Shuttle program ranks with the moon landings as being one of NASA's best contributions to mankind. I do not believe man will ever again strive to accomplish what these two programs accomplished as routine. I am very proud to have been a member of this great team that pushed the limits of accomplishments. The effect of these accomplishments will be felt by future generations for years to come after the program ends. These people were like family and they will be missed when the program finally ends. I wish them all the best that the future holds in their professional life. Never again will such a meaningful and important program be put together.

Craig C. Capdepon, External Tank, Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Michoud Assembly Facility
The Shuttle Program has been a great learning experience for our nation. Each citizen through the program missions has reached out beyond everyday life to uncover facts of the universe and inspire future generations.

Jeff Best. External Tank, Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Michoud Assembly Facility
Pride immediately comes to mind. I'll take to my grave the pride I have for being a part of the most resilient work force in the history of NASA. We experienced all too many life-changing events at Michoud in New Orleans but proved time and time again that we were "all-in" when it came to building America's Space Shuttle hardware. We cried on each other's shoulders that dreadful Saturday morning in 2003 when Columbia fell but came to work on Monday determined to find and fix the cause. We cried again in August 2005 when Hurricane Katrina wiped out over 50% of our work force's homes. By early fall most of us were back at work making the external tank better than ever. We proved it once again near the end as material issues were discovered in the intertank. We found it, fixed it and flew again when many folks thought it was over. What a great team of people!

Warren E. Wilson, External Tank, Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Michoud Assembly Facility
A slight breeze works its way through tall bushes at water's edge. The little bayou vibrates with the unexpected noises of a rookery offering shelter to scores of egrets adorned in snowy whiteness, each one busily feeding little ones. Dragonflies dart to and fro, unsure where to settle. And as if to catch a glimpse of the sight, a small silvery fish streaks across the murky surface, his sparkle lasting but a moment before disappearing into the dark water. Near this tranquil scene and the abundant life teeming there, a fence marks one side of an enclosure where large metal objects have stopped to rest.

Only recently removed from NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, the sad tooling relics that served proudly through the shuttle's decades-long External Tank Project have become nothing more than obsolete steel and aluminum structures resting among the scattered weeds of the yard. In random fashion, the thirty-foot tall behemoths stand, stoic and silent, not unlike giant playthings strewn about and then left behind by some friendly colossus.

It is to this remote salvage yard located at the edge of the facility that I venture. With only memories for company, I slowly climb steps leading to the top of one of the now docile giants and gaze at the familiar lines of a distant factory building. Immersed in thought, I realize with sadness that the tired tools will never return to their familiar home on the factory floor.

Their work is finished, those Goliaths that once shaped metal elements that served as the backbone of the greatest flying machine ever built. Once capable of computer-generated spins and moves that would rival any dancer, those crafters of huge domes and gores have made their final cut and given shape to their last panel. Yes, their work is done. And sadly, so is mine.

Jason M. Calmes, External Tank, Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Michoud Assembly Facility
I grew up fascinated with space travel, and I consider myself greatly privileged to have helped further that endeavor.

Kay Anderson, ATK Aerospace Systems
I feel so fortunate to have worked on the Space Shuttle Program. I started working for ATK during redesign, following Challenger, and found the team spirit and dedication of the space shuttle team to be quite unparalleled. The shuttle has been such a tremendous source of pride -- both for the shuttle work force and for our country. It's hard to believe we will no longer be flying the shuttle, but I look forward to continuing to work on America's space program on something we can all be proud of again.

Ben Faltinowski, ATK Aerospace Systems
It was one of the great life-work inspirations I've ever had. As a 6-year-old boy (home sick with chicken pox), I watched with awe as the first shuttle flew in 1981. This inspired me to learn more about rockets, planes, space, and the math and science behind it all. And now at age 36, I find myself working (as an engineer) in the same U.S. space industry that produced this great icon of space exploration. It's sad to see the Shuttle program go, but it's paved the way for a greater wave of US space achievement, namely NASA's new HLV and commercial space.

Glen Curtis, ATK Aerospace Systems
It has been an incredible journey to be part of the teams at ATK, with other primes, with our suppliers, and with NASA (MSFC, JSC, KSC, astronauts) that have built and flown the shuttle. It is an amazing system that captured the excitement of the nation and expanded science and knowledge.

Dennis E. Decker, ATK Aerospace Systems
While others sit around and dream about the future, we made it happen. Thanks for the Space Shuttle opportunities!

Debora Adam, ATK Aerospace Systems
The Space Shuttle represents true innovation as diverse groups of people work together toward a common goal. Through aerospace, we have gained so many critical technologies by advances in health care, national defense and increases in safety, just to name a few. It is human nature to explore and innovate. The Space Shuttle Program brought those actions together. Built on other space programs, the Space Shuttle Program has allowed our country to advance ahead and stay sharp in technology. Additionally, it allowed astronauts from our country to join others in creating the International Space Station. What a wonderful way to come together for a common goal -- to join with other nations as they explore space as well. As this program comes to a close and we open new doors, with new technologies, may we ever innovate and stay sharp in our quest to explore.

Alvin Nay, ATK Aerospace Systems
I hired into the company before the first Shuttle launch in 1979 and have been in a position to participate in acceptance testing on every Shuttle flight throughout the entire program. I have felt great sorrow when missions met with tragedy and have rejoiced in each and every successful mission. I was given my first opportunity to go to Kennedy Space Center in March of this year and felt a great sense of personal and company accomplishment in our part of this great program and at the same time felt a great sorrow at the end of this era. I have worked with a lot of great people and would not exchange my experiences that I have had here.

SharaDawn Stephens, ATK Aerospace Systems
I have been at ATK for 31 years and have had the opportunity of being in Florida to watch 2 shuttle flights in 2000 and 2009. It is so amazing how many companies and individuals it takes to make the shuttle fly. It has been a privilege to be a small part of this great program through the good times and the bad times as people came together to ensure safety of those flying on the shuttle.

Chris Reid, ATK Aerospace Systems
It was divinely inspired by God and the backbone of our country's progression, unity and pride. I am very grateful to have been a part of it.

F. Bruce Hill, ATK Aerospace Systems
Certainly the advancements in science and technology, as derived from the Program, have and will continue to serve humanity for many years to come. Being just a small part of this has been a source of immeasurable personal pride. I have been blessed at having been exposed to a great learning experience. My personal memory of witnessing a launch many years ago and just a few short months later watching this same Orbiter (with crew) be destroyed during ascent on a cold February morning, has served to remind me of the life and death importance of what I have chosen to do with my life. I thank my creator for my life, my parents for the capacity to love and learn, and the memories of a life that will last for an eternity . . . I pray. I am humbled by the vast and complicated nature of our world and mindful of the fact that there is so much more for humanity to understand. I am grateful for what I feel that I understand but know there is so much more yet to be even contemplated.

Mark Wallentine, ATK Aerospace Systems
The Space Shuttle has meant over 34 years of being involved in something truly great, extremely rewarding from a job satisfaction perspective, and it has paid the bills while raising a family. In 1977 and at age 17, I received a college scholarship to design experiments for the shuttle. Later that year, this led to me being able to watch the first shuttle test landing at Edwards Air Force Base. After graduating from college, I was lucky enough to be offered a job at Thiokol working directly on the space shuttle solid rocket booster program. It's now the end of an era. My career knows nothing else. Thankfully, the job skills, personal friendships, and life experiences will follow me to the next opportunity.

Rick Golde, ATK Aerospace Systems
The Space Shuttle was more than just a job to me for almost 30 years (which by the way helped me raise my kids and put them through college). It was a lifestyle that revolved around getting involved and getting plugged in with a team of people who cared about the job they were doing -- putting astronauts and payloads safely into space. Wow, I used to dream about stuff like this when I was a kid. Watching the Apollo missions come together and see men walking on the moon in the 60s...then I got the opportunity to join the Space Shuttle team in the early 80s and had the honor to be able to put my shoulder to the wheel and make the SRM (then RSRM) motors the safest, most reliable product available. I would say pride and satisfaction come to mind too, as I can't think of any time in my life where I felt so much pride and satisfaction as seeing a Shuttle lift off and roar crackling into the sky. The challenges were many, the work was sometimes long and hard, but I wouldn't trade a second of it as I had so many great experiences with so many talented, energetic people over the past three decades. I can only hope we can continue this legacy of solid accomplishments as the future unfolds before us.

Rick Beagley, ATK Aerospace Systems
I came here in 1981, after working on electronic systems for submarines in the Navy. I thought nothing could get my blood pumping like watching a submarine going through its warfare tactics. When the first Shuttle lifted off, the blood pumping and the pride of being a small part of it shined far brighter. I am very proud to be able to be here for the first and the last. My heart is full!

David Buhaly, ATK Aerospace Systems
The Space Shuttle program has been woven throughout the last 29 years of my career. From a young Air Force lieutenant at SLC-6 working SRB and External Tank operations, through managing ATK Test Services and testing many RSRMs, to leading Promontory Operations and building many of the last flight sets. It has meant joy, excitement, challenge and sometimes, grief. The Space Shuttle program has been a key factor in creating the person that I am today.

Jerry Burn, ATK Aerospace Systems
The Space Shuttle Program has been a career. It is special with the longevity of the program, the number of launches, the successes of Hubble and the Space Station etc., and opportunities of advancing science and research. What it has meant to me is pride of being part of the Space Program with worthwhile goals and working with very talented people.

Roque Salas, ATK Aerospace Systems
With a total of over 25 years in the engineering field, half of my career has been in service to the space program and especially in support of the Shuttle Missions. As a child from the island of Guam, I had dreams of working with NASA and being a part of the Space program and Shuttle family. As my first experience after completing Army service, I had the privilege to work as a contract engineer on the Shuttle Main Engines alongside many professionals at NASA. And at the sunset of the Shuttle program, I find myself supporting the solid rocket boosters that have successfully launched so many missions this program has achieved. I am proud to have been part of this scientific marvel and era in our human spaceflight journey, and I look forward to new space explorations in our future, to the moon and beyond.

Ernie Kyed, ATK Aerospace Systems
The space shuttle was an object of fascination for many years to an aspiring student when I first watched it fly many years ago. Not only is it a thing of beauty and a marvel of technological, it is an object representing the dreams of many to go beyond what seems possible. It's not just the concept and greatness of space fight that are inspiring, but the idea of being able to go somewhere beyond what seems achievable -- breaking free of the bonds of gravity. This machine lifts off with a mighty roar commanding the attention of all, yet returns to earth unpowered with the grace and elegance of a soaring bird in flight. I will miss the shuttle and all the dreams and hopes of conquering the unconquerable that it brought to me each time it flew.

Kerry Sanofsky, ATK Aerospace Systems
I joined the RSRM Space Shuttle Program in the fall of 1986, shortly after the Challenger accident. It was a time when finger pointing was ending and the team re-building process was beginning. I remember the long days, presentations, never ending meetings/telecoms, reviews, reviews, and more reviews. We became united in the common goal to safely return to flight. From then to now, MSFC and ATK have grown to become one.

Mark Thomas, ATK Aerospace Systems
The Space Shuttle Program has fascinated me since I was an 11-year old boy watching the first launch and landing on TV. I never dreamed I would actually get to be a part of this program myself and contribute to the amazing discoveries and achievements that it has enabled. My enthusiasm for space has caught on with my wife and children and I feel very fortunate to be part of an extended Shuttle family. One thing that comes to mind as I reflect on what we've done is to continuously push ourselves -- to find better ways to do things, to increase safety for the astronauts, to achieve higher performance, and to fix potential problems. We've never sat on our heels but have always been searching for better because of our passion and dedication to human spaceflight, and I think that is true for the entire Shuttle family. I salute everyone who has put so much into this program and hope that many of us will have the chance to continue to contribute to something bigger than ourselves, to push exploration and knowledge even further!

Margaret Watson, ATK Aerospace Systems
The dreams and small steps, visions and words of yesterday, became a winged reality in the world's most majestic symbol of innovation and exploration embodied by the Space Shuttle. The countdown commentary resounds in my memory from the first liftoff in my youth to this last journey of Atlantis. I have grown up beneath the billowy clouds of the Space Shuttle fleet'' ignition. I have been privy to the numerous triumphs and unforgettable tragedies. I have lived amongst and worked with the magnificent minds that birthed and raised to heavenly heights what was once fantasy, and to some an impossibility. I've never been able to breech the feeling of amazement as I've viewed the upward ascent. While I may never again stand in the thunder and glare of another Space Shuttle, the wings of a legacy will soar within. There is power in a vision fueled by teamwork and the faith that all things are possible for those that believe.

Kevin Rees, ATK Aerospace Systems
In December of 1972 I came home from elementary school one day to learn my family was making a trip to Cocoa Beach, Florida, to watch the last Apollo rocket launch to the moon. A few weeks later I was on the causeway at Cape Kennedy, in the middle of the night, watching the exciting night launch of Apollo 17. That was inspiring. Years later I found myself driving across that same causeway to Hanger AF to perform post-flight inspection of the twin solid rocket motors. It has been an honor to work for Thiokol/ATK on the Space Shuttle Solid Rocket Motor Program and in some small way contribute to the success of NASA and our nation's space exploration program.

Becky Crownover, Jacobs Engineering Group
I realized that I wanted to work on the Space Shuttle Program as a junior in high school, while sitting in a Physics class. My teacher was a semi-finalist for the Teacher in Space Project and his enthusiasm was contagious. While our school was not one of those that gathered to watch the historic launch, several other teachers were listening to the radio and news of the Challenger tragedy travelled to our classroom quickly. It took nearly 21 years, but my goal of working on the Space Shuttle Program was finally realized in January of 2007. I have had the privilege of contributing to the safe launch and performance of the final six flights of Discovery, Endeavour, and Atlantis; 18 flights in total. It has been an honor to work on these tremendous vehicles and with the dedicated teams that kept them flying safely.

Ralph Carruth, Engineering Directorate
Having the opportunity to work on the space shuttle and many of the payloads it carried has been a great and rewarding thrill. I have a unique memory of the shuttle program. In 1974, as a member of a group of college students, I toured the Marshall Center. The hospitality was great and I still remember the person who was our guide that day. We had seen drawings of the shuttle on walls -- this future spacecraft that was so large and would be able to take off again and again. At noon we had lunch in the cafeteria and overheard people talking about the shuttle and the work they were doing. It was so surreal that these people's everyday job was to work on the shuttle and they could casually talk about it over lunch. We as students were so taken by this and dreamed ….maybe we too someday.