Shuttle Processing... a Family Affair
Of all the fun things you and your family could do together, working with your mom on the Space Shuttle probably ranks pretty close to the top of the list.
Sue Hutchinson, a quality assurance specialist at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, has worked for the Agency for 21 years. That's nearly the amount of time her oldest daughter, Melissa Jones, has been alive. Jones is a new member of United Space Alliance's Communications and Tracking Engineering Group.
Image to left: Melissa Jones (left), a United Space Alliance employee, and her mom, Sue Hutchinson, a KSC quality assurance specialist, recently worked in the mid-body of Endeavour at the same time.
"We work in difference facilities, so we don't interact all the time. But I see her often, and we can even ride to work together," Jones replied when asked what it's like to work so close to her mother. "She was really helpful when I first started, introducing me to people and helping me find my way around the place.
I definitely know more about the Shuttle than I would if she didn't also work here."
How did this unique mother-daughter duo end up working together at KSC?
In 1998, Jones and her younger sister, Leslie Hutchinson, participated in the Summer High School Apprentice Research Program. Later, they both graduated from the University of Central Florida in Orlando. While Leslie pursued microbiology and a veterinary career, her sister received a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering.
Hutchinson works in the Orbiter Processing Facility, the Shuttle processing hangar. Jones works in a nearby operations building. Although they work in separate areas, they recently bumped into each other in a rather unusual place.
"I think the neatest thing of all was that recently, Melissa and I were in the mid-body of Endeavour at the same time working on unrelated jobs, which was totally unexpected," said Hutchinson. "While we were in Endeavour, I wondered if this was the first time a mother and daughter have worked in the mid-body at the same time."
So what brought the two generations to the same spot? Jones was examining cables that were too close together and her mother was performing wire inspections.
It's a historic time for NASA as Shuttles Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour are being prepared for Return to Flight. The Shuttles will play a critical role in completing the International Space Station, the first step in the Vision for Space Exploration
"It's so exciting to be here at KSC when we're about to start a whole new chapter of the Shuttle Program," Jones said. "I want to contribute in any way that I can."
For more information on the Summer High School Apprentice Research Program, visit:
Anna Heiney and Jennifer Wolfinger
NASA's John F. Kennedy Space Center