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  Charles Camarda fired as JSC Engineering Director

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Author Topic:   Charles Camarda fired as JSC Engineering Director
Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 06-26-2006 03:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
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 (see below), 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.

Forwarded by someone@jsc.nasa.gov:

From: Camarda, Charles J. (JSC-EA)
Sent: Monday, June 26, 2006 11:35 AM

Subject: My Parting Words to the Organization I am Honored to Have Had the Opportunity to Lead

Team,

I want you all to know how proud I am of the efforts you have made to ensure a safe return to flight for STS-121. I am most proud of the way I can count on you to do and say the right thing and stand up and be counted. I have witnessed it daily as your Director and I know this first hand after serving as a crewmember on STS-114. My wife Melinda and my family were confident knowing my safety was in your hands (she had a speed dial list with all the key engineer's phone numbers). I was most proud at all the PRCBs and at the recent FRR when you stood up and presented your dissenting opinions and your exceptions/ constraints for flight. I believe we have come a long way in a very short time and I truly believe you will become the jewel in the Exploration crown for this Agency.

I cannot accept the methods I believe are being used by this Center to select future leaders. I have always based my decisions on facts, data and good solid analysis. I cannot be a party to rumor, inuendo, gossip and/or manipulation to make or break someone's career and/or good name. I refused to abandon my position on the MMT and asked that if I would not be allowed to work this mission that I would have to be fired from my position and I was. I am truly sorry I will not be there with my team after all our hard work. I will be there in spirit and I am only a phone call away if you need me. We have much to do to prepare to support this mission and I am sure you will be the ultimate professionals that I know you are and exemplify the spirit of "teamwork" which will be needed to get the job done. Please do not let this affect your focus at this crucial time! I have been offered a position and will continue to support this Agency which I love and be a good team member.

Thank you and God Bless you all,

Charlie

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 06-26-2006 03:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Forwarded by someone@jsc.nasa.gov:
KEY PERSONNEL ASSIGNMENT

Effective immediately, Dr. Charles J. Camarda, is assigned to the NASA Engineering and Safety Center (NESC). Through the NESC, Dr. Camarda will use his technical expertise to evaluate problems and supplement safety and engineering activities for Agency programs.

Dr. Camarda joined NASA's Langley Research Center (LaRC) as a research scientist in the Thermal Structures Branch after earning his Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering from the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn in 1974. He served in progressively more responsible positions including Director, Engineering, at the Johnson Space Center.

Dr. Camarda received a Master of Science degree in Engineering Science from George Washington University in 1980 and a Doctorate in Aerospace Engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in 1990.

Selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA in April 1996, Dr. Camarda flew as a Mission Specialist on the return to flight mission, STS-114 Discovery (July 26-August 9, 2005) and has logged over 333 hours in space.

original signed by:
Michael L. Coats, Director

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 06-26-2006 03:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Forwarded by someone@jsc.nasa.gov:
KEY PERSONNEL ASSIGNMENT

Effective immediately, Mr. Steve Altemus is named Director, Engineering at the Johnson Space Center.

Mr. Altemus has served as the Deputy Director, Engineering at JSC since December 2004. Mr. Altemus first joined NASA at the Kennedy Space Center serving in the Space Shuttle Program as an operations engineer on the orbiter Discovery. In 1992, he became a NASA Test Director responsible for directing and managing all daily processing activities associated with the Space Shuttle orbiters. He continued to broaden his skills and contributions to Space Shuttle operations in serving as the NASA Convoy Commander and Landing Recovery Director for multiple Space Shuttle landings. In 1998, Mr. Altemus accepted a position as the Shuttle Test Director where he was responsible for the planning, integration, and execution of launch countdown and related activities. In the wake of the Columbia accident on February 1, 2003, he was asked to serve as the Columbia Reconstruction Director for the Space Shuttle Program at the Kennedy Space Center. Additionally, Mr. Altemus served as the Chief of the Shuttle Launch and Landing Division.

Mr. Altemus holds a bachelor's degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University and a master's degree in Engineering Management from the University of Central Florida.

original signed by:
Michael L. Coats, Director

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 06-28-2006 09:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Since first reporting this story, several other news organizations have published articles suggesting that Camarda's reassignment was in response to or in connection with his stated support of those on his engineering team who disagreed with the decision to launch Discovery despite concerns regarding foam loss and the External Tank's ice frost ramps. The timing of his removal from the STS-121 Mission Management Team -- a mere week before launch -- fueled this suspicion.

On Tuesday evening, Camarda released through NASA a statement to the press:

I support the engineering position as expressed at the FRR [Flight Readiness Review]. I was reassigned by Mr. Mike Coats because we did not see eye to eye on management style. I have been reassigned to the NASA Engineering and Safety Center (NESC) and have been assured I will be participating in the upcoming flight as part of the Mission Management Team. I look toward the successful completion of STS-121.

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