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NASA MSFC Internal Memo: Steve Cook Resignation

Status Report From: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Posted: Thursday, August 27, 2009

Team,

Today, the Ares team made its 1st attempt to fire the world's highest performing solid rocket motor - developed after 3.5 years of outstanding effort by NASA and ATK. While we had to scrub due to an APU issue and the investigation is ongoing, I have no doubt that this team will quickly resolve the issue and get on with the test. In addition, we now have a fully-stacked Ares I-X test launch vehicle in the VAB at KSC - the 1st rocket other than the Shuttle to be assembled in the VAB in 34 years. Finally, in a few weeks, we will be one year past the Ares PDR and the Ares V MCR - the Ares team has nailed every challenge set before it over the past 4 years and is well on its way to flight. Congratulations to all of you!

The progress we have made clearly shows that the Ares team continues to deliver on the promises made 4 years ago - to develop the safest and most affordable launch system family we could field to enable the exploration of space while minimizing the gap in human space flight. We are building on the best of the last 50 years of space flight and marrying it with the most modern systems available today.

It is with the backdrop of these accomplishments that I am writing to tell you that after long and prayerful consideration, I have decided to depart NASA after 19 years of service. I have wrestled with making this decision for the past year and the time has come for my transition.

I have been honored and privileged to work with the best-of-the-best in the aerospace industry over the past 19 years. NASA has graciously allowed me to pursue dreams of exploration that I have had since my passion was ignited watching Apollo 17 land on the moon. That said, my professional goal has long been to spend the first half of my career in public service and the later half in the private sector. On September 14, I will begin phase 2 of my career, as Director of Space Technologies at Dynetics in Huntsville, AL. I look forward to helping the Dynetics team take on the challenges associated with space flight.

As I depart, I have no doubts that the Constellation and Ares teams will continue to be a key part of shaping the future of space exploration. It is amazing how this team - from its origins in the Columbia accident and after years of starting/stopping programs - has consistently kept a "confident humility" about everything you did and continue to do. We have established a level of teamwork across centers that I am not sure has ever occurred in NASA's history. It is also incredible how this team has responded to seemingly insurmountable challenges, yet overcame every one. You worked hard and I appreciate you for it. Please take the time to appreciate each other as well. Clearly there is some uncertainty ahead as there always is in life, but that's nothing new for this team - and you will face every new challenge with continued courage and resolve. As Proverbs 24:10 says, "If you falter in times of trouble, how small is your strength!" This team has shown just how strong it is - keep going and pressing the boundaries of space!

I sincerely appreciate the blessing of being able to play a part in the NASA team - it has been my great honor and privilege to serve you. I will miss working with the Ares team in particular because it has been a highlight of my career.

Effective Monday, August 31, Teresa Vanhooser will take over as Acting Manager, Ares Projects Office. Teresa will do a great job in leading the team toward accomplishing our near and long term milestones and my last request of you is to support her fully as you did me - your support kept me going.

In closing, I wish you all the best and I look forward to watching this team accomplish many more great things!

Best Regards,

Steve Cook
Manager, Ares Projects
NASA Marshall Space Flight Center

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