Meet the STS-124 Launch Team
Launch Team members share the responsibility and excitement of launching space shuttle missions. They report to their respective computer or communication consoles following the "call to stations" for the final countdown. Many of the consoles are located in the firing rooms in Kennedy's Launch Control Center, next door to the Vehicle Assembly Building in Launch Complex 39. Below are some of the key members with descriptions of their responsibilities during the events that lead up to the liftoff of a space shuttle.
LeRoy Cain, Pre-Flight Mission Management Team Chairman
Cain is the manager of Space Shuttle Launch Integration. He shares mission management team responsibilities with the In-Flight Mission Management Team Chairman. Cain reports directly to the Space Shuttle Program Manager and assists with the overall management, integration and operations of the Space Shuttle Program.
Mike Leinbach, Launch Director
Leinbach polls the payload manager, the shuttle engineering director, the cape weather officer and the director of safety to get a launch consensus and verifies that the NASA test and mission management team directors are in agreement. The launch director is responsible for making the final "go/no-go" decision to proceed with the launch.
Jeff Spaulding, NASA Test Director
Spaulding leads the shuttle test team responsible for directing and integrating all flight crew, orbiter, external tank/solid rocket booster and ground support testing throughout the shuttle launch countdown. The test director also is responsible for the safety of all personnel inside the pad after external tank loading, including the flight crew. He reports to the launch director.
Scott Higginbotham, International Space Station Mission Manager
The International Space Station mission manager leads the team of engineers and technicians that assemble and test the station experiments and hardware that are flying on mission STS-124. Higginbotham acts as the primary interface with the payload customers and is responsible for solving any technical issues that may arise with any of the station hardware.
Stephanie Stilson, NASA Flow Manager
Stilson, the NASA Flow Manager for space shuttle Discovery, is responsible for the integration, scheduling and conduct of the orbiter's processing operations and launch countdown.
Kathy Winters, Launch Weather Officer
The launch weather officer, located at the Morrell Operations Center on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, evaluates range and shuttle weather launch commit criteria. Wintersis in constant contact with the launch director and landing recovery director during the countdown, and contacted by the launch director during the final launch poll.
Charlie Blackwell-Thompson, Assistant NASA Test Director
Blackwell-Thompson is responsible for management of the launch team and launch procedure for the terminal countdown in support of the NASA test director. The test director's special duties include management of the countdown clock with the ground launch sequencer operator, and management of any special crews sent to the pad for major issues or emergencies.
Shannon Bartell, Director of Safety and Mission Assurance
As director of safety and mission assurance, Bartell is the advisory member to the mission management team. In this capacity, she is responsible for reviewing the rationale in decision-making, for ensuring that dissenting opinions are encouraged, and for calling on additional resources to respond to short turnaround issues.
Charlie Abner, Chief Engineer
The chief engineer is responsible for all engineering aspects related to processing flight hardware elements and facility/ground support equipment and for the integration of technical decisions made by both engineering and management personnel before and during launch. He makes recommendations for final "go/no-go" launch decisions.