NASA: Doing What No Else Can Do


The new social networking tool at work has a “Question of the Week” feature that invites users to share. This week’s question was “What is it about NASA that makes you proud to be a part of it?” Only a handful of people had answered when I did, and they started by talking about what they do, so I did, too. Here’s the answer I posted.


I work in education. I’m proud to, but I’m aware that I’m a very small cog in a very big machine.

My team got to be “mission” for STS-118. We were involved in a “real” payload, and when the crew visited Marshall after the mission, we were the ones invited to join them for lunch. But that was the exception. We have nothing to do with putting people into space, with exploring other worlds, with bringing crews home safely, with conducting science on the space frontier, or any of the other sexy things the agency does.

Our job is to help inspire the people who will do those things in the future.

I love my job. A lot. I’m proud to be a part of the agency. But, every once and a while, there comes a moment that reminds me just what this agency is that I’m a part of.

I hear a talk by Alan Bean. I watch a launch of the space shuttle. I talk with astronaut aboard the space station. And I’m reminded just what this agency is.

We do the things that no one else on the planet — or off, which in our case is a necessary distinction — can do. The only reason we can’t say that we do the impossible is because NASA takes those things that are impossible for anyone else and makes them possible.

Who else could have landed men on the moon? Who else could place two rovers, back to back, on the surface of Mars? Who else could deliver a crew of seven people to help construct the International Space Station? Who else could peer into the cosmos the way we have with the Hubble Space Telescope? Who else could inspire the people of America, and of the world, the way NASA has?

Who else? No one. NASA does the things no one else can do. These things must be done, and therefore we must do them.

And we do.

How could one not be proud to be part of an organization like that?

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