Status Report

NASA GSFC Internal Memo: Message and Updates from the Center Director

By SpaceRef Editor
July 31, 2020
Filed under ,

From: GSFC-Communications <> 
Sent: Thursday, July 30, 2020 11:59 AM
Subject: Message and Updates from the Center Director




Hello, everyone,


Dennis is on leave this week and has asked me, like an understudy in the theater industry, to step in for him providing the weekly update. Whether or not you are a morning person, I hope you had the opportunity to wake up early today and tune in to the launch of our agency’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover as it makes its way to the Red Planet. It is an exciting mission for NASA and the nation – with our center making contributions on several fronts – and it augments several of the Mars missions that Goddard currently manages. Furthermore, Perseverance puts us one step closer to realizing the goals of the Artemis program as we work toward sending the first woman and next man to the Moon and eventually sending a crewed mission to Mars. Congratulations to all those involved, and we look forward to the mission’s first scientific results several months from now. It was a flawless and beautiful launch, and I hope you were able to watch it!


Perseverance, in name and action, embodies NASA’s spirit during this pandemic. Our mission goes on regardless of the circumstances. As we conclude the second week of Stage 3 underthe NASA Framework for Return to On-Site Work – in which we welcomed back employees who are working on mission-critical timelines – we look forward to the launches of missions and instruments that are under Goddard’s umbrella. Stage 3 has been a success thus far, thanks in no small part to the coordination and cooperation of all those involved. Please keep up the good work!


Safe at Work Video

If you haven’t had an opportunity yet, please take the time to watch Goddard’s Safe at Work video if you anticipate or know that you will be coming on-site, even for a short while, during Stage 3. Health and safety are everyone’s responsibility – in both our personal and professional capacities – whether we are working on center or at home. And, even if you have already watched the video, please go back from time to time and review it on our internal COVID website to refresh your memory on center policies and safety best practices during the pandemic.


Policy on Performing Lab Work at Home

It has come to our attention that because of the teleworking posture many of us still find ourselves in, several employees have taken it upon themselves to perform laboratory/technical space work at home or in their personal facilities. We do not need to go into detail on the associated risks, but it is both against our center’s policy and potentially dangerous. Performing lab/technical space work at home is strictly prohibited and we will take appropriate action against those who violate this policy. If you must perform lab work and are not classified as Stage 3 or 4 personnel, have reservations about coming to center, are up against a deadline, or for any other reason are unable to perform your work at Goddard, please speak to your supervisor to find the best remedy. You, our employees, are our greatest resource, and under no circumstances will we risk your health and safety.


Equity Task Force

During last week’s meeting of the Equity Task Force, the leadership of the African American Advisory Committee shared challenges faced by some African-Americans at Goddard and what they have been hearing from constituents over the past two months in the wake of recent racial unrest in our country. They also discussed “Black fatigue,” retention issues impacting the African-American community, recruiting from historically black colleges and universities, and unintentional and intentional acts of discrimination. In the coming weeks, equity thought leaders will be working with other personnel in four subteams created to develop ways to enable racial equity and minority participation at Goddard as well as greater allyship, inclusion and belonging for minority and early-career employees.


As an extension of the Equity Task Force and its approach, I encourage everyone to be intentionally mindful in our daily interactions with colleagues, recognizing that everyone’s voice matters. Some of us tend to speak freely and frequently during meetings, for example, while others are more reserved. Taking time to pause, reflect and encourage contributions helps ensure that everyone is included and their voices are heard.


Stage 4 Spotlight

This week, I would like to thank the Hubble Space Telescope flight operations team members  Larry Stake, Doug Grimes, Bijal Patel, Justin Germany, Dave Schaible and Phathom Donald  for their continued commitment to this flagship Goddard mission. Hubble recently celebrated its 30th launch anniversary. Thanks to the flight operations team, the observatory remains at the peak of its scientific capability decades later.


Similarly, I would also like to recognize the contributions of the Space Science Mission Operations team. Throughout the pandemic, the team has continued to manage operations for numerous missions at Goddard and partner institutions. Their presence has ensured that our missions continue to produce the scientific bounty for the benefit of humanity. Please find their names below and thank them for a job well done!



As always, please continue to take care of yourselves and those closest to you.




Raymond J. Rubilotta

Associate Center Director, a.k.a. “pinch hitter for Dennis”



Space Science Mission Operations team:


Harold “Bud” Benefield

Steve Hall

Mike Wilkins

Nick Piston 

Jacqueline Snell 

Reese Wynn 

Khary Johnson

Jason Burtnick

Brandyn Mark

Kiana Duff

Kelsey Caldwell

Christian Ratliff

Sara Freed

David Spencer

Lisa Dobbins 

Troy Edwards 

Brett Sapper

Allison Ekinci

Eric Hymowitz 

Kyle Demmerle

Bob Lutz

Chuck Pineau

Warren Zeman 

Chris Vandyke 

Seth Shulman 

Carl Phillips

Sean Letourneau

Daniel Talmage

Nicholas Padgett

Chris Riley 

Ryan Jim

Noah Williams

Bess Mild-Ebot 

Steve Payne

Lauren Hancox 

Trevor Williams

Eric Palmer

Neil Ottenstein

Babak Vint

Charles Nettles

Abraham Aguilar

Nick Pinkine

Ben Holt

Mark Lewis

Jeremy Thorsness

Mark Hilliard


*For internal purposes only.

SpaceRef staff editor.