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Scott Perry
10-21-2005, 08:36 PM
Yeah this novel of mine, I'm writing a mystery with NASA involved. I just wondered if there were ranks, any pre-modifying names, like in the military there is Colonel, and Sargent, etc.

Let me know guys. Appreciate it. :)

-Sc00t

Bufty
10-21-2005, 08:57 PM
Scott,

A routine google on 'Nasa Personnel' will give you - http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/pao/History/prsnnl.htm :banana:



Yeah this novel of mine, I'm writing a mystery with NASA involved. I just wondered if there were ranks, any pre-modifying names, like in the military there is Colonel, and Sargent, etc.

Let me know guys. Appreciate it. :)

-Sc00t

Kasey Mackenzie
10-21-2005, 09:07 PM
I don't think this is the proper board for this post...Maybe a moderator can move it to writing novels or something more appropriate.

Scott Perry
10-21-2005, 09:22 PM
Nice work. Heehee.

MadScientistMatt
10-21-2005, 10:14 PM
NASA is a civillian agency. However, sometimes you may see astronauts and others have a military rank mentioned. This isn't a NASA rank, however - it's the rank they held in the military before joining NASA. Being a military pilot is pretty much an essential stepping stone to becoming a pilot for NASA, so the pilot and commander aboard a shuttle would have been commissioned officers before joining NASA.

Berry
10-21-2005, 11:12 PM
... sometimes you may see astronauts and others have a military rank mentioned. This isn't a NASA rank, however - it's the rank they held in the military before joining NASA.

To be pedantic (and I could be wrong) most military pilots who "join" NASA don't quit the military; they're assigned to NASA and keep their military ranks because they're still IN the military.

At least that's what I seem to remember from the last time I read The Right Stuff.

MadScientistMatt
10-21-2005, 11:53 PM
To be pedantic (and I could be wrong) most military pilots who "join" NASA don't quit the military; they're assigned to NASA and keep their military ranks because they're still IN the military.

At least that's what I seem to remember from the last time I read The Right Stuff.

Thanks. I wasn't quite sure if NASA astronauts are still active members of the military or not.

Scott Perry
10-22-2005, 12:06 AM
Do they have to be a certain rank before they are assigned, do you know? And what sections of the military are they assigned from? I wouldn't want to work on presumptions.

astonwest
10-22-2005, 05:10 AM
Do they have to be a certain rank before they are assigned, do you know?

They have to pass the screening process. I don't think there's a particular rank requirement, but I imagine you're probably not going to see too many lieutenants.

Because the shuttle is an experimental aircraft (and spacecraft), you're probably going to see a lot of highly-trained, exceptional pilots familiar with flight testing.

(just for clarification, astronauts can also come from civilian realms.)


And what sections of the military are they assigned from? I wouldn't want to work on presumptions.

If you stick to the AF and Navy (and maybe Marines?), you'll probably be safe. I imagine one could probably search the internet to find the requirements...

rickdemille
10-22-2005, 06:49 AM
Yeah this novel of mine, I'm writing a mystery with NASA involved. I just wondered if there were ranks, any pre-modifying names, like in the military there is Colonel, and Sargent, etc.

Let me know guys. Appreciate it. :)

-Sc00t

Normally there is a Commander, a Piot, and Mission Specialists. The Commander is usually an experienced shuttle crewmember, and the pilot does pilot stuff. The specialists are usually selected by the requirements of the mission - astronomer, biologist, etc.

Here is a link to the last shuttle mission, they have the crew bio's at the bottom.

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/shuttlemissions/sts121_overview.html

MadScientistMatt
10-22-2005, 05:04 PM
The Commander is a second pilot, too. As the documentary Moon Shot explained, they chose those designations because astronauts' egos are often too big for any one of them to accept the title of "Co-Pilot."

rickdemille
10-22-2005, 05:15 PM
The Commander is a second pilot, too. As the documentary Moon Shot explained, they chose those designations because astronauts' egos are often too big for any one of them to accept the title of "Co-Pilot."

I didn't see "Moon Shot," I was going by "Space Cowboys."

astonwest
10-23-2005, 04:36 PM
Which would be much like using Air Force One (or any number of other aircraft films) as research for a novel about airplanes...

rickdemille
10-23-2005, 08:17 PM
Which would be much like using Air Force One (or any number of other aircraft films) as research for a novel about airplanes...
I know you're not implying that "Air Force One" and "Executive Decision" aren't completely accurate.

astonwest
10-24-2005, 05:41 AM
I know people that turn 747s up on their sides during runway rolls and mate up F-117s with jumbo jets...they do this stuff all day long...which is why it gets put in the movie, for realism.

(Though I will venture out and complain about the research done during the series (not season) premiere of NCIS, where Air Force One was forced to land at the civilian airport in Wichita. Funny enough, there's an AF base in that same city...it's really not that hard to find this stuff out and avoid such blatant mistakes.)

[/rant]

rickdemille
10-24-2005, 11:01 PM
I know people that turn 747s up on their sides during runway rolls and mate up F-117s with jumbo jets...they do this stuff all day long...which is why it gets put in the movie, for realism.

(Though I will venture out and complain about the research done during the series (not season) premiere of NCIS, where Air Force One was forced to land at the civilian airport in Wichita. Funny enough, there's an AF base in that same city...it's really not that hard to find this stuff out and avoid such blatant mistakes.)

[/rant]
My wife hates it when I complain about these kind of things. I am very critical of 'stock footage' shots of equipment and aircraft - seeing an Air Force jet go from an F-16 to an F-4 Phantom to an F14 than back to an F-16 in about three minutes of action drives me crazy.

It doesn't have to be believable, just entertaining.

Mr Underhill
10-24-2005, 11:51 PM
Do they have to be a certain rank before they are assigned, do you know? And what sections of the military are they assigned from? I wouldn't want to work on presumptions.

One link you might consider perusing is the astronaut biographies at http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/Bios/ You can get a good idea of what the mix looks like by reading a number of them and what they did before being selected for the corps.

In the days of The Right Stuff astronauts were chosen almost exclusively from the ranks of military test pilots. With the advent of the Space Shuttle many are now scientists and engineers. Anyone can apply for the Astronaut Corps, but the chances are quite remote without a compelling background. As with all human organizations, it helps if you know people already there, though many others are selected too.

For the military, not anyone can apply, however. The Armed Services collect all of the applicants they have and pre-screen them before presenting the names to NASA. As someone pointed out upthread, astronauts come primarily from the Air Force and Navy due to the emphasis on pilots, but Marine and Army astronauts also exist. If you look through those bios you might even find an ex-Coast-Guard name. And as Berry pointed out, they remain active-duty military while assigned to NASA. It should be pointed out that their pay remains the same as any other servicemember of their rank (though they do get an off-base housing allowance, I believe).

In terms of rank, you would certainly have to be an officer before being considered, probably at least a Captain in the Air Force or the equivalent. By the time one became a senior member of the Astronaut Corps, Lieutenant Colonel or Colonel would be normal, but I doubt anyone makes General without being assigned back to a regular military post. There is one French astronaut who is a General in the Air Force of France, I believe.

For the Shuttle, the Pilots and Commanders are mainly from the military pilot background. The Pilot is the crewmember responsible for "flying" the shuttle, which practically means the twenty minutes at the very end where the craft is under manual control for landing. Effectively they are trying to steer an airborne brick through a 270-degree turn before landing on a runway surrounded by Florida swamp. Not an easy job. They also have "piloting" responsibilities on launch and other parts of the flight, but those are typically of the watching data and punching the right buttons at the right time variety, duties shared by the Commander and others. The Commander is in fact in command of the mission, and is also the one who performs orbital maneuvers such as rendezvous operations. Sometimes the Pilot will take the stick for these, as he or she is effectively a Commander-in-Training.

Now that's a lot about astronauts, but there are only 120 or so astronauts, and tens of thousands of NASA employees, and an even larger number of contractor personnel. NASA is a civilian agency, and its people are civil servants. As such they don't have ranks. But the management echelons have titles, of course. Director, Division Chief, Administrator, that sort of thing. And each job has a specified civil service pay grade, which is also something that should be publicly available.

Then you have the contractors, who are employees of Aerospace & Defense corporations such as Boeing. Much of the actual "work" is done by these contractors, with civil service oversight. But you will also find situations such as Mission Control where contractors and civil servants work side-by-side frequently performing the same jobs.

Scott Perry
10-30-2005, 10:41 PM
Thanks for all your help guys, it has been *very* informative and helped me complete my chapter and finish building the official side of my charaters (titles, roles, etc.)

Cheers!
-Sc00t