Sunlight Shining Through Cloud

Compare. Contrast. Control.

Posted on: May 25, 2012

An amazing thing happened today. A Canadian-made robot arm secured a space capsule and then attached it to The International Space Station which is comprised of operational units shared by cosmonauts and astronauts, and is managed by NASA. What was interesting was not the tricky ballet high above, however; it was the collaboration of cultures that made it work down below.

You’ve seen Mission Control at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. There’s the huge room with wall-sized screens displaying video and data. There’s the well-anchored rows of science positions, each with a specific responsibility, each with access to real-time information to aid in critical decision-making.

And you’ve seen the engineers in their white shirts and slender ties. Today, women were notably in charge. The big room operated at a pace and with a proficiency we’ve come to expect. Theirs was the job of consummating the outer space marriage.

Meanwhile, at SpaceX in Hawthorne California, another control operation was flying the same mission. It seemed, at first glance, to be a primitive copy of the JSC. But quickly you noticed many more differences.

The well-ordered rows of scientists were sitting at long tables with collapsible legs…the kind you find in a hotel ballroom. Each operator peered into two or three flat-panel computer screens just like yours. There were no buzz-cuts as in Houston. The dress code here was: whatever. Jeans and sneakers. Hoodies, t-shirts, a Batman sweatshirt.

To this group went the job of designing, building and launching the first-ever privately-funded, reusable cargo-bearing spacecraft.

When the capture was confirmed, there were handshakes and hugs in Houston. When the capture was confirmed, there were chest-bumps and hugs in Hawthorne.

Epic accomplishment though it may be, the real takeaway is that disparate cultures with a common goal can work together to produce a great thing. This applies to every area of endeavor: the assembly of a car; the building of a sandcastle; the running of a country.

1 Response to "Compare. Contrast. Control."

Good thoughts, Fred. Like it.

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