Mike Leinbach, the launch director at Kennedy Space Center, ran the final launch simulation the other day in prepreation for the final Space Shuttle launch scheduled for July 8th. He took a minute or two to speak to his entire Firing Room Team and most eloquently summed up the frustrations of the entire Kennedy Space Center workforce over the state of our nation’s Human Space Flight Program and did something amazing; He apologized to the workforce on behalf of NASA!
“For the final S0044 folks, what I’m about to say would not be appropriate on launch day, and this is our last chance to talk together,” noted Mr Leinbach over the recorded Launch Director loop (transcribed from an audio recording via L2).
“The end of the shuttle program is a tough thing to swallow and we’re all victims of poor policy out of Washington D.C., both at the NASA level and the executive branch of the government and it affects all of us – it affects most of you – severely.
“I’m embarrassed that we don’t have better guidance out of Washington DC. Throughout the history of the manned space flight program we’ve always had another program to transition into – from Mercury to Gemini, and to Apollo to the Apollo-Soyuz test program, to Skylab and then to the shuttle – we’ve always had something to transition into.
“And we had that, and it got cancelled and now we don’t have anything, and I’m embarrassed that we don’t. Frankly, as a senior NASA manager, I’d like to apologize to you all that we don’t have that – so there you are. I love you all, I wish you all the best.
“We will press on through this flow and this launch in the way we always do. We’re going to play this game to the final out and then we’ll be done. I just wish you all the best, and again Godspeed to you all. Thank you.”
As the loop was opened, rapturous applause could be heard ringing around the Firing Room.
You will NEVER see NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden (let alone Obama or Senator Bill Nelson) or his second in command, Lori Garver “man up” and apologize to our nation and our Human Space Flight workforce for the damage they have done. The senior management team at NASA’s Washington D.C. HQ could learn a thing or two about honor from Mike Leinbach, but they will probably punish him instead.
Well said and well done Mr. Leinbach. Godspeed and good luck to you too.
Here is the actual audio file for you to listen to. (Hat tip to John K.)