State of the Center Updated at Town Meeting
By: Denise Adams

Center Director Lesa Roe opened the Town Hall Meeting on Aug. 10 by stating, "We need to celebrate." She congratulated the center on significant accomplishments this fiscal year including support of the STS-121 shuttle mission including the demonstration on that mission of the infrared camera system developed at NASA Langley Research Center, the successful launch and operations of CALIPSO and two successful X-43A flights.

Image Right: Center Director, Lesa Roe

Roe went on to discuss the state of the center. The budget trend has shown major improvement since February of 2005. "This is not attributed to any one person. It was a center group effort," Roe explained.

Roe explained that key exploration work is starting to come in, although Langley's aeronautics budget has declined, mirroring the agency's aeronautics budget. One result of the agency's aeronautics program restructuring is Langley's loss of the Boeing 757. It will go to NASA Dryden to be placed in dry storage at the end of September.

Roe noted that Exploration work on the center is expected to double in 2007. Our largest center mission budget in 2007 is Exploration, estimated at approximately 25 percent. Aeronautics follows closely behind with 2 percent less. "Aeronautics is now focused on a more fundamental approach to research," explained Roe.

Rich Antcliff, director of the Chief Technologist Office, then discussed the external business update. He explained that the goal of $30 million in reimbursable work would be surpassed and would likely reach $45 million by the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30. He added that this will allow the center to position for the future and shows good stewardship of our capabilities.

Clayton Turner, Systems Engineering Directorate, provided an update on the Agency's multi-faceted Governance Model including Langley's implementation of Technical Authority. Under the heading of Technical Excellence, he described both the personal and organizational responsibilities required. As one example he sited a stronger emphasis on the use of formal, peer reviewed technical reports to document results. In response to a question, he acknowledged that the center no longer has an office dedicated to technical editing, but peer review could ease the concern until that shortcoming is addressed.

Flight project management and execution, discussed by David Bowles, deputy director, Exploration and Flight Projects Directorate, will require the full commitment of the LaRC team for executing. In February, there was a Flight Project Readiness Review, which conducted an assessment of the center's ability to manage and execute development of human-rated flight hardware systems.

Some of the strengths discovered were "flight project success," "vital technical expertise, facilities and equipment," and "a core of experienced flight project managers and staff." One of the areas that are being improved as a result of the work to date is the establishment of a "war room" to meet an identified project staffing challenge. There will also be more rigorous flight project management practices, tools and methods, and more effective contract management.

Project managers will have a new handbook when "Langley Space Flight Project Practices, Rev. 1" is drafted in September. "You won't have to re-invent the wheel every time a new project comes along," explained Bowles.

Lesa Roe also discussed the LaRC Strategy Implementation Framework. The current framework is a work-in-progress, but Roe explains, "It will help us to implement NASA's strategic plan by best aligning our workforce and facilities for now and in the future." Roe explained that there would be a more detailed discussion on this framework in the fall.

Roe closed the meeting by thanking the center for the hard work and accomplishments and she noted that the key knowledge we've had in aeronautics has led to more work in exploration. "What we need to do now is manage work and execute our commitments."

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Managing Editor and Responsible NASA Official: H. Keith Henry
Editor and Curator: Denise Adams