Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Dawn of the Space Shuttle Program

I started, at the beginning, in 1978
by Michael V.

I started with Martin Marietta in 1978, out of New Orleans, Louisiana, at $4.00 per hour. For the first three months, I had to hitchhike to work, then ride home in the back of a small pick-up truck. (Since it was a small truck, it was nice to be young!)

I was given the chance to work on a project that was still pretty new. It was the testing the first heavy weight external tank at the test site in Hancock, Mississippi. At that time it was called the National Space Technology Laboratories (NSTL). Our external tank was called MPTA, which stood for main propulsion test article. We worked side by side with Rockwell and other companies testing the tank and the space shuttle engines. I was always a technician and proud of what I did. When the tank was retired in 1984, a friend of mine, Marty McCutcheon, and I sprayed the entire fuel tank in the test stand. This effort took a lot of people helping with preparation before spraying the foam, and it took us about three weeks to complete the task. The tank sits outside of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, to this day. One of our engineers came up with a coating to protect the foam from weather and such.