Rencontre avec Andy Scheer, Launch Pad Technician, qui vient nous parler de son travail et de sa passion pour l'espace...
Interview réalisée en 2010
Q) How many years were you connected to the space program prior to selected as Launch Pad Technician and why have you choose this job ?
A) I didn’t have any real connection to the space program prior to getting the job working on the launch pad.
Space has always fascinated me though. I grew up in a small town in Ohio very close to where Neil Armstrong was born. There is a small museum there that I remember going to on at least one school field trip.
Like so many, the original Star Trek series is what cemented my interest in any and all forms of space explorations.
I would love an opportunity to go into space, and maybe some day I’ll get my wish. Until that day comes, having an opportunity to work on the space shuttle program isn’t a bad second place.
Q) How did you have trained as Launch Pad Technician ?
A) A mechanical aviation background is one of the most desirable traits to look for when selecting a new technician.
Having past experience in military aviation or an FAA Airframe & Powerplant license are generally considered key to even getting an interview.
Recently some schools have started to offer two-year degree programs for an Aerospace Technician certification that teaches many of the skills that will be required in any future program.
I had six years of military aviation experience as an Apache helicopter crew chief and a year at the Cessna Citation factory before I got the job at KSC. Q) What is exactly your job as Launch Pad Technician ?
A) Currently I am the lead technician in what is affectionately called the “Cryo Shop” on pad 39A.
Our shop is responsible for maintaining the pad ground support system that is used to service the orbiters internal fuel cell tanks with liquid hydrogen and oxygen.
Or secondary responsibility is to maintain the orbiters ground cooling system at the pad.
This system is responsible for cooling the orbiters internal components while it is on the ground.
This system performs the same function on the ground that the radiators mounted on the payload bay doors do in space.
Q) What is your best memory as Launch Pad Technician ?
A) I’m not sure about best, but certainly one of the most vivid was the first launch I saw standing in the shadow of the VAB.
Every part was spectacular. From the brilliant light of the solid rocket boosters to the vibration of that incredible thrust passing through my chest, every part was incredible.
Yet as amazing as that was, the part of that launch that stands out the most is the period of time between the launch and separation of the solid rocket boosters.
After the initial awe of launch I remember looking around at the other employees standing around me and wondering why no one was cheering or whistling or really saying anything.
With the exception of the giant rocket that had just launched, it was eerily quiet.
The announcer through the loudspeaker continued to give updates of the Shuttle’s status and progress.
Then, at just after two minutes into the flight, came the words everyone had been waiting and holding their cheers for.
As “successful booster separation” came through the speaker the cheers and whistles I had been expecting at launch finally came.
It was the fall of 2001 and even though it had been fifteen years since the Challenger disaster, for those who had seen it in person the first two minutes of flight might have been the hardest of the entire process.
Q) What is your most amazing space dream ?
A) My dream for space that I hope to see in my lifetime is that some form of space travel is as common and available as commercial airline travel is today.
We are seeing the very beginning of this already today.
There is still a long way to go and it is very likely that we will need technology that isn’t even invented yet to make this a reality.
This and much more will eventually come true given enough time and the considerable talent that is working on it.
It reminds me of a quote I have always liked from the English poet William Blake in the book “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell”.
It is “what is now proved was once only imagined”.
Humans can make anything a reality as long as we can imagine it.
Q) What is, for you, the most incredible space object ?
A) For me the most incredible space object isn’t one object, it is a picture of thousands of objects.
This picture(s) is Hobble’s ultra deep field image(s).
It is amazing to think that in such a small point in space so many galaxies could lurk.
Trying to wrap the average human brain around the distances and scale of those tiny images is a chore that can only lead to a headache.
A headache that is only compounded by contemplating the billions of objects that makes up each one of those tiny galaxies.