Author Topic: STS-114 Astronaut Charles Camarda, JSC Engineering Director, Fired  (Read 8492 times)

Offline collectSPACE

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(collectSPACE.com/SPACE.com) — Less than a year after his first spaceflight and just one week shy of his helping to lead another from the ground, Charles Camarda has been fired from his position as Director, Engineering at NASA Johnson Space Center.

In an e-mail written by Camarda and obtained by collectSPACE, the astronaut praised his colleagues' preparation for STS-121 and offered his regrets that he would "not be there with my team" when Discovery launches July 1.

Camarda did not fully explain what led to his request to be let go, but wrote that he "cannot accept the methods I believe are being used by this Center to select future leaders." In addition to personnel concerns, Camarda wrote that he refused to "abandon" his position on the STS-121 Mission Management Team and asked that if he was not allowed to work the mission, that "I would have to be fired from my position and I was."

Sources inside the agency said that were surprised by the announcement and how quickly his reassignment was posted.

According to his letter, Camarda was offered another position and he planned to "continue to support this Agency which I love and be a good team member."

Subsequent to Camarda's e-mail being sent, a personnel announcement signed by JSC Director Michael Coats confirmed Camarda's re-assignment to the NASA Engineering and Safety Center (NESC), an independent organization based at Langley Reseach Center in Virginia and chartered in the wake of the Space Shuttle Columbia accident.

Steve Altemus, deputy director under Camarda, replaced the astronaut as Director, effective immediately.

Selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA in April 1996, Camarda flew as a mission specialist on last year's return to flight mission, STS-114 and has logged over 333 hours in space.

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Offline psloss

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Offline Chris Bergin

Double Wow. Hell of a story you have there, Robert.

Offline astrobrian

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whoa man, what exactly brought this on, esspecially right before the flight?

Offline mong'

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man, that's big.
is that what you get for taking a stand ? :(

Offline Delta Manager

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Disgraceful. Are you going after NASA on this Robert?

Offline astrobrian

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A brief thought of Thiokol came to mind too for me, not sure what he disagreed with but it touched a nerve somewhere

Offline Flightstar

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This is no way to treat such a great guy.

Offline noname_77065

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What a shame. He's a nice guy and didn't deserve this!
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Offline Zachstar

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This is alarming

Offline astrobrian

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Just so those who don't know who we are talking about, this is him

Offline vt_hokie

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Politics sucks, but I guess it comes with any job, even for astronauts with a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering, apparently!

Offline Jim

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vt_hokie - 27/6/2006  4:45 AM

Politics sucks, but I guess it comes with any job, even for astronauts with a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering, apparently!

Those are not necessarily qualifications for a leader.

Offline Ender0319

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And doing it to a fellow Hokie (Virginia Tech) too... SUCKS

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vt_hokie - 27/6/2006  3:45 AM

Politics sucks, but I guess it comes with any job, even for astronauts with a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering, apparently!

Offline MKremer

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Once one gets high enough on the org chart the sometimes cut-throat wheeling and dealing of inter-agency politics becomes a major factor. Some folks may not have a taste for that to stand it for very long, or can discover they just don't have the abilities to excel at that part of the job.

Offline vt_hokie

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Ender0319 - 27/6/2006  8:37 AM

And doing it to a fellow Hokie (Virginia Tech) too... SUCKS

Hey Jeff, yeah, I certainly can't argue with that!  


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Jim - 27/6/2006  7:05 AM

Those are not necessarily qualifications for a leader.

Not necessarily, but then neither is a Harvard MBA or a background in finance or being born with a silver spoon based on the poor leadership I've seen at all levels of corporations and government.  I wouldn't mind seeing a few more scientists and engineers in leadership positions, personally.   ;)

Offline spacedreams

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Camarda is a brilliant guy and, thanks to his east coast personality, he will share with you exactly what he thinks if you like it or not. I personally find it very refreshing and I admire him. Many of us wondered if he would make it through STS-114 without getting kicked out because he was consistantly offering his opinion on a number of flight issues (most of which I agreed with but were not politically acceptable).

I have to admit I really find these events troubling. I know exactly what Camarda means when he talks about how the future leaders are chosen at JSC. When I began here it seemed that decisions were made mostly on solid engineering judgement. That was when shuttle was the only game in town. Then ISS came along and all of a sudden a lot of people were thrown into some very important jobs with not very much experience or engineering background. It just seems that over those years a huge good 'ol boy/girl network has formed and decisions have been made more on who you know than what you know. Even worse, those who do present solid engineering are kind of squeezed out because they might make others "look bad". After the accident it got even worse. The Return to Flight "clique" could rival some college sororities in terms of poltics. There still are a few of the good guys that make it through and keep their values , ala Wayne Hale (the guy is a genius and as straight forward as you can get). Unfortunately we have been losing a lot of very good people over the past few years because either they have become fed up or they see the 2010 end of the road and are getting out while the getting is good. And don't even try getting one of the contractors started on civil servant hiring (basically you either have to be a college co-op or buddy up and work yourself into the "network" to get a civil servant slot).

Hopefully Charlie will still have some influence. We need folks like him.  I will just try to continue doing my best in keeping to the engineering and battling the politics. I might just have to brush up on my resume in case I get too honest and get the boot as well.

Offline astrobrian

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vt_hokie - 28/6/2006  12:28 AM   I wouldn't mind seeing a few more scientists and engineers in leadership positions, personally.   ;)

How about cloning Dr. Griffin ? :) 


Offline Chris Bergin

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astrobrian - 28/6/2006  12:26 PM

Quote
vt_hokie - 28/6/2006  12:28 AM   I wouldn't mind seeing a few more scientists and engineers in leadership positions, personally.   ;)

How about cloning Dr. Griffin ? :) 


I'd prefer a cloning of Wayne Hale.

Offline Marcus

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spacedreams - 27/6/2006  11:40 PM

I have to admit I really find these events troubling. I know exactly what Camarda means when he talks about how the future leaders are chosen at JSC. When I began here it seemed that decisions were made mostly on solid engineering judgement. That was when shuttle was the only game in town. Then ISS came along and all of a sudden a lot of people were thrown into some very important jobs with not very much experience or engineering background. It just seems that over those years a huge good 'ol boy/girl network has formed and decisions have been made more on who you know than what you know. Even worse, those who do present solid engineering are kind of squeezed out because they might make others "look bad". After the accident it got even worse. The Return to Flight "clique" could rival some college sororities in terms of poltics. There still are a few of the good guys that make it through and keep their values , ala Wayne Hale (the guy is a genius and as straight forward as you can get). Unfortunately we have been losing a lot of very good people over the past few years because either they have become fed up or they see the 2010 end of the road and are getting out while the getting is good. And don't even try getting one of the contractors started on civil servant hiring (basically you either have to be a college co-op or buddy up and work yourself into the "network" to get a civil servant slot).

I had the same perception of JSC from the "outside" as a college student a few years ago. The "JSC uber alles" attitude and the tales of a lack of technical work done by other students there really soured me on that center. It's for this exact reason that I chose a co-op at KSC rather than one in Houston (well, that and the surf is better). I just hope this is mostly a political issue and not an engineering one because it certainly looks bad.
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