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December 26th, 2021

My Wee Part Of James Webb

Note: Those of you who know I’ve a part of the James Webb Space Telescope that launched yesterday (Finally!)…this blog doesn’t have much of my moment-to-moment thoughts on that. Those are on my Facebook page and they’re usually (but not always) set to “Public”. I will try to be more communicative about it here since we launched, and since I am trying to disentangle myself from Facebook. But this isn’t the easiest place for me to whip my smartphone out and start posting when something happens like Facebook is. I’ll try to change that too…somehow…



[Posted to my Facebook page on Christmas Eve…the day before launch…] 

You may be seeing on the news now, shots and videos of this room. It’s going to be a very busy place tomorrow, and for months to come. But for a while, I was part of a team working there. Back in 2017, when this was taken, I was part of the Integration and Test team that did the initial end to end tests between the spacecraft and the Institute. I did work for a time in the flight ops room. Early on it was actually a simulator we were talking to, just to test the network connectivity, although I was there later, when the first commands were sent to the actual spacecraft and it replied.

This is me, sitting in the center front row seat in flight ops, performing Test Conductor duty. The three ring binder there next to me holds the very meticulously established test procedure for us to follow (I blanked the pages out here and the monitors too because that’s a high security area). After each step there was a place for my initials to sign off on that step having been done. I would call out the steps over the deep space network to all the stations involved in the test, and the flight engineer next to me would send the commands on my mark. One of my team members sat in the row behind us, doing Test Director work. Test Director was who you talked to when you needed an executive decision on how to proceed. I just basically followed procedure. Those test documents will be stored away for I don’t know how long, but once again there’s a little piece of me in the record of space exploration.

And it’s all still so stunning. So amazing. I did this. I really did this.

About a year or so ago my work in the flight ops room was done, and my access to it removed. That’s how it has to be, though I may still have work to do later in the other areas of the MOC. But this will always be for the rest of my life a fantastic part of it. I had other work besides this, gathering telemetry from the various cryo-vacuum tests on the science part of the spacecraft, watching as it spoke its first words. It was amazing.

Oh..and that little gold keycard around my neck is…special… (I’ve distorted that also for security reasons) I’ll probably have to give it back someday but at least I have pictures of me wearing it.

And now…it’s time to launch. Everything all these years has been leading up to this moment. Time to launch.

[Note: I’d call that a Mary Poppins Launch…practically perfect in every way! As of my posting this we’ve had our first course correction burn and everything is still looking good! Best Christmas present ever!]

[Note: That photo was taken in 2017 and and…yeah…I look much better with the beard at this age. Alas. I really don’t like beards…but…gay male vanity. I reckon I’ll keep it…]

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