Harry Wynn

My name is Harry Wynn and I am currently assigned as a HST "Instrumentation and Communications" systems engineer. I&C Systems Engineers are responsible for assuring and maintaining ground and radio communications links between the ST Operations Control Center and the HST spacecraft. All engineering and science data, and all commands from the STOCC to the spacecraft are transmitted and received through the I&C system. I work with an outstanding group of engineers and Flight Controllers who operate and keep watch over the HST twenty-four hours a day. Our specific tasks are to make sure that all of the communications equipment and instrumentation on the vehicle operates as it should during normal day-to-day operations, to make sure that communications coverage meets the requirements of the mission, to plan, prepare, and perform special tests with the Space and Ground communications networks, and to ensure HST Flight and ground systems compatibility with those networks. The most challenging and most fun work I&C does is planning, preparing, and flying special tests and HST Servicing Missions. About a year and a half before each SM, we begin to work very closely with our Space Shuttle counterparts at the Johnson Space Center and Kennedy Space Center to develop and integrate communications capabilities with mission requirements so that Servicing Mission activities may proceed smoothly and without interruption.

My career in the space program began when I was 19 years old. After a year of college, I took a job at the Goddard Space Flight Center as a contractor employee on the Nimbus weather satellite project. I learned how to use many different types of mainframe computers and held positions as both command and data controller. After five years at Nimbus, I moved to the Landsat program, where I transitioned from operating the ground systems to commanding the Landsat spacecraft to the position of Senior Flight Controller. I was responsible for one of four on-line teams of engineers and controllers and the health and safety of Landsat 4 and 5. I had a terrific boss there who taught me how to run a control center and controller team, and who gave me the opportunity to learn everything I could about how ground systems worked, how tracking network systems worked, and how spacecraft systems worked. Landsat prepared me to come to work at HST in the summer of 1988. When Hubble was launched in April of 1990 I held the position of Flight Operations Shift Supervisor. I had a terrific crew, and the teamwork and the individual excellence of the members of that team and being a part of my first Space Shuttle mission will always be treasured memories. Being a part of the launching and deployment of the Hubble Space Telescope was extremely exciting. The tremendous level of public interest in the HST, the difficulties we experienced with the deployment, the satisfaction of getting an extremely hard task accomplished, and then finding out about the problem with the telescope's main mirror were real peaks and valleys for us all.

For the next three years, we all worked as hard as we could to make the First Servicing Mission a success. It was the biggest effort I have ever made or ever been a part of. I transferred from Flight Operations to Systems Engineering during that time, and one of my new responsibilities was to figure out how best to communicate between HST and the Space Shuttle Orbiter. It was a lot of fun, very difficult, and in the end, extremely rewarding. It took a lot of ingenuity and hard work on the part of a lot of people, but it all paid off and we had a very successful mission. The absolute dedication on the part of the people I worked with was amazing to me. One of our I&C Flight Controllers worked so hard before the mission that she developed pneumonia the week before launch. She was back on console four days into the flight, before she was well enough to do so, just because working this flight was so important to her. Individual effort and determination like that is what makes the space program work.

As a kid and to this day, I am always fascinated by people who press the limits of human experience and capability to explore and to learn about the universe. I remember my parents sitting me in front of the television to watch the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo missions. Mom and Dad only had to sit me there once. I was hooked, and growing up I read every book I could get my hands on about space and flying. I studied not just the missions, but just as importantly, I studied the people who made the missions work. The names Kraft, Kranz, and Charlesworth, Aaron, Bales, and Garmin were just as important to me as Shepard, Glenn, Armstrong, Conrad, and Cernan, and I tried to learn from them all. I wanted to know not just what they did, but how they did it.

My brother and I were very fortunate to have parents who made us believe that if we worked and studied hard enough, we could do anything. At one point in my late teens, when I was doubting whether or not I had what it took to do this kind of work, my father Bill saw that I was wavering and asked me a simple and blunt question; "Do you want to just read about history, or do you want to be a part of it?" I applied at Goddard the next day. A lot of hard work and a lot of luck later, I am part of the team that flies the Hubble Space Telescope.

Years ago as a child, I started building and flying model rockets and planes. When I was in school I devoted myself to getting the best grades in math and science that I could with hopes of getting into either the U.S. Naval or Air Force academies and becoming a fighter pilot. When my eyesight didn't make the grade, I paid my own way through civilian flight school and became a private pilot when I was 22. Along the way I worked as an Emergency Medical Technician for the Anne Arundel County Fire Department, for several years I was a photographer for a east coast racing newspaper, covering NASCAR and IndyCar races, and for several years worked on a stock-car pit crew. I still fly rockets, higher-powered ones now, I still go to races, and I still love to fly. Those interests have carried me to a point where I get to go to Houston and the Cape in the performance of my job. I have sat at the Flight Director's console, climbed around on the Shuttle launch pads, and been in and around the Space Shuttles Discovery and Endeavour. It has been a dream come true, and I wouldn't trade the experience for anything.

I owe my thanks to my family for the support, guidance, and encouragement they have given me. My younger brother Reese is a Flight Controller and is preparing to launch and operate a new satellite, and has already launched and deployed the Extreme UltraViolet Explorer satellite. He worked next to me during the HST First Servicing Mission doing communications work. My mother June passed away four months after HST was launched, and being connected to this mission through her son was a real boost for her. The strength she and my father showed during her illness still guide me. And my new stepmom MaryLee gets just as excited about what we do, and went with my dad to the Cape for the launch of Endeavour for the First Servicing Mission. I count my blessings every day.

The Hubble Space Telescope has given all of us a window on creation I had never even dreamed of, enabling us to see things more beautiful and spectacular than I could have ever imagined. I hope to be a part of it for years to come.