NASA flight director relishes the moment, focuses on the mission
NASA Flight Director Richard Jones monitors the space shuttle Atlantis inside Mission Control the Johnson Space Center.
July 8th, 2011
06:41 PM ET

NASA flight director relishes the moment, focuses on the mission

After Friday's launch of the Space Shuttle Atlantis, CNN Correspondent Ed Lavandera talked with Flight Director Richard Jones inside NASA Mission Control at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. Jones is a 20-year veteran of the space shuttle program. Today, Jones made the call to give the go-ahead for the final launch of Atlantis.

CNN: What was it like being in there today?

Richard Jones: I was a bundle of nerves. I mean, we were working through the weather issue that most people probably already know about. The weather was on the verge of being absolutely pristine, but it just wasn't quite there. So, we were churning through that making sure it was all safe.

CNN: I know your number one priority was to get those astronauts off safely. But in the back of your mind, knowing the whole world was watching today, Did that sink in at any point?

Jones: It's sinking in right now as I'm talking to you. In this room you kind of learn to live in the bubble a little bit. So everything that we're doing, it just fades to the background. We know a lot of people are watching but it becomes background noise. So I wasn't focusing on anything except my job at the time.

CNN: Has it sunk that this was the last space shuttle launch?

Jones: Not yet. I mean, we've got a mission to fly. After, we'll stop when all the parties begin. It's going to start sinking in at that time. But we have to make sure the rest of the mission goes off without a hitch.

CNN: The crazy thing about being flight director of the space shuttle launch is that you haven't seen the launch. There wasn't a monitor around you that actually showed you video of the launch.

Jones: No, I will catch that tonight. I'm going to enjoy some moments with my team. Right now I'm going to visit them right now and relax with them and once I get home, I'll go look at the replays and see how it went. I'm expecting to see a beautiful, beautiful launch.

CNN: As you ended your shift in the flight director chair today, you spoke to your team inside Mission Control and you got emotional. Why?

Jones: I did. I wasn't expecting that until the very end. And it's because I'm saying goodbye to a lot of my co-workers. I've been in the trenches with them for a long time and just saying goodbye to them, it hurts. And so it came rushing to me.

CNN: What do you want them to take away from what you told them today?

Jones: The one thing that I wanted, there is the past, the present and the future. And we're a little part of it. We're right now in the present... And so, just relish the moment.

CNN: When you go home tonight, will you be thinking of those astronauts up there?

Jones: Oh God, yes! They're family. They think about us like we think about them. And we're working together to make sure that everything is going as well as it is.

CNN: In a few days, after the space shuttle Atlantis returns to Earth, Mission Control will be quiet for the foreseeable future, won't it? That has to be hard for people to see.

Jones: It will be. It's part of our transition. It's up to us to make sure it doesn't stay quiet for very long.

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Filed under: Atlantis • NASA • Shuttle
soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. Cesar

    And so I put it to you my fellow Americans. We shall explore the regions of outer space and go where mankind has never been.

    July 8, 2011 at 8:08 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Cesar

    And as we send Americans beyond Jupiter, Venus, and Uranus, we will provide them with an abundant supply of BBQ wings and a very dry beer, Corona. Thank you.

    July 8, 2011 at 8:11 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mmmmm

      Nah-nah! That ain't right! They need to be supplied with a bags of boiled crawfish and ice cold brewskis!

      July 8, 2011 at 9:03 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Cesar

    Crawfish? I bought some at a convienience store near a beach once. I let them go. That's been my only experience with crawfish. I'm sure that the idiots in Louisiana eat that cra p.

    July 8, 2011 at 9:16 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mmmmm

      LOL, Cesar you scholars are such hypocrites: you say tomatoes and I say tomatoes...just because your crawfish is bigger than mine and you call yours lobster...idiot...LOL!

      July 8, 2011 at 11:03 pm | Report abuse |
  4. HRH banasy

    I'm down with the brewskis.

    July 8, 2011 at 9:32 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. ROD STEWART

    it's all maggies fault!!....

    July 9, 2011 at 10:33 am | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Wife of Aerospace Engineer

    I think it"s really sad that the publice doesn't know the truth about our space program.My husband along with thousands of other engineers from Houston, Huntsville, AL and the Cape have lost their jobs. We HAD a replacement for the space shuttle that would save tax payers millions. The shuttle was becoming a relic, too costly to continue. However for the past (at least) five years NASA has been working on the Ares project. Billions of dollars was spent developing this new program. NASA isn't only interested in launching space shuttles and rockets. They"re invaluable to our military among many other government funded programs. But last year our "government" came to the NASA contractors and pulled the plug on an almost completed project, leaving thousands of very highly skilled aerospace engineers out of jobs. So, what happened to Ares? Did they wrap it up and sell it to another country? Most likelt pockets were padded and this was kept hush hush so taxpayers wouldn't notice. Most people think we've "retired" our space program......if only they knew the truth!

    July 9, 2011 at 11:15 am | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Mary needs to....

    ....go take a nap.

    July 9, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Avser Bastian

    DICTATOR OBAMA = STALIN = BUSH or USA = SOVIET UNION....LEARN WHO, HOW, AND WHY RUINED YOU…FROM 911 TO WHITE AMERICAN REFUGEES IN EXILE SEEKING ASYLUM RIGHT NOW http://avsecbostjan.wordpress.com/ or http://avsecbostjan.blogspot.com WHO/WHY//HOW CREATED SCHOOL SHOOTINGS(Arizona incl.) – HAARP AUSTRALIAN FLOODS(Incl. deliberately busted oil pipe in gulf of Mexico) – LEARN ABOUT REAL HUMAN FLASH EATING MACHINE – WIKILEAKS is CIA – BREAST FEEDING INSANITY PROTESTS – FACEBOOK or CIABOOTH !!? - ESKIMO SARAH PALIN'S "BRIDGE TO NOWHERE" – NWO MULTICULTURALISM SWINE/PIG FLUE SYNDROME – NEWS/MEDIA OR SIMPLY BIG FAT VACUUM WORLD OF LIES !!?? – THE REAL DON'T ASK DON'T TELL, BUT DIE !!! – OBAMINATOR'S FREE HEALTH CARE PLANE or GENOCIDE BASED ON FORGIVE AND FORGET – UN-chef Ban Ki-moon or CHINESE BAN KEY MONKEY(who is he in reality) !!? – NEW WORLD ORDER POLITICAL PARTIES(not there for you, but instead to seal your faith for their own parliament pay$$ scale !!!) EURO DIC TRAITORS vs DICTATORS or what is worse !!? LEARN WHAT DO LIBYA AND EUROPE OR USA HAVE IN-COMMON !! AND FINALLY.....COMMUNISM IN EASTERN EUROPE TODAY IN 2011 !!! "SLOVENIA" TODAY, WHERE COMMUNIST GENOCIDE GOES ON 24/7 FOR CREATION OF GREATER BYZANTINE SERBIA UNDER RUSSIAN FLAG http://sloveniatoday.blogspot.com "SLOVENIA" WHERE GERMANS(also Croatians in Croatia) ARE GETTING WIPED OUT 66 YEARS AFTER WWII OR 20 YEARS SINCE THEIR "INDEPENDENCE"(independence on paper only). Is Merkel truly great diplomat or is simply trading our lives behind our backs with worst enemies(LIBERALISM = RETARDISM = COMMUNISM = IDIOTISM = CRIME = ZIONISM) !!?

    July 9, 2011 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse | Reply

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