Some thoughts about some people who did some stuff…

by Jul 10, 2011

(originally posted after the conclusion of STS-135, the final Space Shuttle mission)

I’ve wanted to let the past couple of day’s emotions settle down a bit before I posted…


My love affair with spaceflight began in July of 1969, when a 5 year old boy sat glued to the black-and-white television watching grainy pictures from the Moon.

My favorite cartoon (and my FDO callsign origin) “Roger Ramjet” was a big hit at the time. That year at Christmas, I received one of my favorite gifts ever – a silver astronaut’s suit and helmet.

I still have a picture of me in that, grinning like there’s no tomorrow.

Mission Control

Even though I never made it to space (darned color-blindness disqualification!!), I was honored to have spent a good portion of my professional life in Mission Control.

I served 26 flights as a Flight Dynamics Officer. 12 years spent deploying satellites, rendezvousing with Mir (multiple times!), helping work new and interesting trajectory techniques, and so many other cool things.

But more importantly, I was blessed with being a part of the greatest group of people I’ve ever had the honor and privilege of knowing.

The entire Mission Operations Directorate were more than co-workers… we were family. We looked out for each other. There were marriages, births, divorces, deaths, graduations. 

We were there. Happy times and sad. Ups and downs.

Softball games, chili cook-offs, pre-flight tamale parties, certification beer busts, post-flight parties at The Outpost… great times with fantastic people.

We just also happened to control Space Shuttle missions.


So – for me, there’s the obvious loss of national prestige and the lead in Manned Spaceflight with the end of the Shuttle Program without a *focused* and fully charged/funded follow-on program.

But, more importantly, it’s the impact to the *people* that I feel the most.

Knowing friends of mine that are still with the program, who have given most, if not all, of their professional lives, are being let loose for no reason that I can fathom, other than poor politics… pains me.

They deserve better.

This country owes them more.


So, for the rest of my NASA and Mission Control family, I salute you – and will raise one in your honor tonight.

I am *honored* to have been part of that family… and will always feel proud of the time that we spent together… including flying a few Shuttle missions. 🙂


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The space exploration advocacy website of Roger Balettie, former Flight Dynamics Officer in NASA’s Space Shuttle Mission Control Center.

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The Flight Dynamics Officer (FDO, pronounced “fido”) is a Flight Controller in the Mission Control Center responsible for the overall trajectory, or flight path, of the Space Shuttle and all related payloads or other space-bound vehicles associated with the Shuttle.

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"Houston… Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed."

Since 1965, the Mission Control Center (MCC) has been the nerve center for America’s manned space program.


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