My brothers and I grew up as NASA Brats.  The term brat is used for kids of military families.  Like Army Brat or Navy Brats etc.…  We were first Air Force Brats, but Dad was transferred to a new organization called NASA which was transformed from NACA – National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics. NACA was formed in 1915 during the Great War or as we know it as World War 1.  In 1958 (Same year I was born at Edwards Air Force Base) NACA was transformed into NASA which means National Aeronautics and Space Administration.  So, I am the same age as NASA – well 1 month younger than NASA. 

My first memory of NASA was of the many times Dad took us to his office on the weekends while he worked.  My brothers and I explored the complex known as the Manned Spacecraft Center.  In the early 1960s none of the buildings were locked and we would walk through most of them. About the only place we could not go was Mission Control in building 30 during a space flight.  I recall walking through building 9 where the spacecraft mock-ups were located. This is also where the Astronauts trained in entering and exiting the spacecraft as well as the locations of all the controls.  There was a lot for them to learn.  At that time there were Gemini trainers in that area.  I remember climbing up some steps to investigate the cockpit of a Gemini trainer.  It looked so cool, sort of like a sports car but with a lot more switches and gauges.  I think that is why I fell in love with the Corvette when I first saw a 1963 split window.  It reminded me so much of the spacecrafts.

One time my brothers and I tagged along with Dad to work; he had just moved to a new building called 440.  The problem with 440, it was a long distance from the cafeteria.  We crossed a field making a straight a line as possible to the cafeteria, even though we could not see that building from 440, but we knew about where it was.  As we exited the field to cross the main road, there was a blue station wagon waiting for us.  It was one of the site guards.  He asked us what we were doing. We told him that dad works in 440 and we were going to the cafeteria.  He radioed what we told him.  As he spoke he pronounced the building number as four-forty.  I thought that was so cool.  I had thought of that building as four hundred and forty.  Funny how the seven-year-old mind works.  The radio answered back, “take them to the cafeteria, then bring them back to 440.”  He rogered the call and told us to hop in.  Today I think that building has been renamed to building 44.


A few months later I went with Dad one Sunday afternoon while he caught up on some work.  I explored the building and discovered the freight elevator.  Building 440 has only two floors and this elevator was large, almost the size of a small room.  It had a bare wood floor and you had to close a gate and move a lever to make the elevator move.  I had so much fun playing on that elevator.  It did not move very fast, but it was fun going back and forth between the floors. 


One day during the summer Dad asked me if I would like to go with him to work.  I jumped at the idea.  His office had a small conference table where he would hold meetings with co-workers.  There were also large paper tablets on easels along with different color markers.  I started drawing stuff with the markers and in a short time the office smelled like marker ink.  Some guys stopped by for a quick meeting, so Dad and the guys decided to go to another room since his office smelled bad from the ink. 

Years later when the Space Shuttle was just a concept, they had a mock-up in building 9.  I don’t recall who I was with that weekend, but we climbed up into the mock-up.  I thought it was cool that the shuttle had a ladder inside from the lower deck to the upper deck.  This was a huge spacecraft compared to the previous ones. While we sat in the pilot’s seats a guard walked in and caught us.  I knew we were probably in big trouble.  He had a stern look as he escorted us out of the building.  He told us to go back to my dad’s office. 

Fast forward to the summer after my first year in college.  In 1980 I got a job as an intern working with the TV/video support at NASA.  It was with a contractor called Taft Broadcasting.  I learned a lot that summer about different types of cameras.  We supported the vacuum chambers in building 32.  We had a bunch of low light cameras and bright light cameras that were used for vacuum tests.  The chamber had solar lights that would come on in 12-hour intervals during tests and simulations.  These cameras were encased in aluminum cylinders and were pressurized with nitrogen to protect the cameras from the harsh environment of vacuum pressure.  There were a couple of times when the low light cameras were still on when the solar lights came on.  That fried the pick-up sensors.   We had to climb up into the catwalks to replace those cameras and bring the damaged cameras back to the shop to be fixed.  I had a lot of fun doing work like that.  That large vacuum chamber has been used in several movies like Future World.  So cool to see the chamber with the huge door in a movie where I had worked.  At the end of that summer my manager tried to talk me into staying to work for them and continue college locally.  I declined the offer since I wanted to finish college at John Brown University.  I have wondered many times how my career would have gone if I had accepted that offer.

Now, 40 years later part of my contract is working with Lockheed on video projects, specifically editing videos.  During the recent Artemis flight, I had the privilege of working in Mission Control in one of the side rooms where we collected videos to be edited.  That was a challenging job for me.  It really stretched my editing skills.

In the Boeing building where my cube is located there is another original NASA Brat from the early days of space flight.  I will not mention who her dad is, he is somewhat famous from the time of the Apollo Flights. We are probably the last of the original NASA Brats still working here.  Most of our age has retired.  I will retire one day.  I would like to work until the next moon landing which will be in a couple of years.  Dad was working here during the original moon landings; I would like to be here during the next landing.