These words hang next to the entrance of the Flight Control Room in the Mission Control Center.  Each Flight Controller who is certified to support flights from the MCC strives to live up to each of these lofty goals.

I have found that these are worthy goals for daily life as well.

The Foundations of Mission Operations

  1. To instill within ourselves these qualities essential to professional excellence:
  • Discipline – Being able to follow as well as to lead, knowing that we must master ourselves before we can master our task.
  • Competence – There being no substitute for total preparation and complete dedication, for space will not tolerate the careless or indifferent.
  • Confidence – Believing in ourselves as well as others, knowing that we must master fear and hesitation before we can succeed.
  • Responsibility – Realizing that it cannot be shifted to others, for it belongs to each of us; we must answer for what we do — or fail to do.
  • Toughness – Taking a stand when we must; to try again, even if it means following a more difficult path.
  • Teamwork – Respecting and utilizing the abilities of others, realizing that we work toward a common goal, for success depends upon the efforts of all.
  • Vigilance – Being always attentive to the dangers of spaceflight; never accepting success as a substitute for rigor in everything we do.
  1. To always be aware that suddenly and unexpectedly we may find ourselves in a role where our performance has ultimate consequences.

  2. To recognize that the greatest error is not to have tried and failed, but that in the trying we do not give it our best effort.

Note – after the Columbia accident in 2003, a 7th element “Vigilance” was added to the original Creed.  It is reflected here.

30 years on: Lessons from Challenger

On the 30th anniversary of the Challenger Accident, I wrote an essay relating to these foundations and how they have applied to my life, both personal and professional.