A giant version of NASA’s classic red, white, and blue logo now proudly adorns a building that has played a central role in space-exploration history.
A new 30-foot NASA logo has been installed on the side of the Spacecraft Assembly Facility at the Jet Propulsion Lab to welcome JPLers and visitors alike. The red, white, and blue insignia – designed in 1959 and nicknamed “the meatball” – went up on Oct. 17 and can be spotted from the freeway nearby.
“We have two strands of DNA – one NASA and one Caltech. We wanted to proudly show our NASA heritage with this logo,” said JPL Director Michael Watkins. “With the appearance of the new sign, I think that more than a few people will be surprised to realize there’s a NASA center tucked away right here in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains.”
A giant version of NASA’s classic red, white, and blue logo now proudly adorns a building that has played a central role in space-exploration history. Credit: NASA-JPL/Caltech
Weighing 6.5 tons, the logo is a vinyl covering stretched over an aluminum frame, then fastened to a steel structural ring. It was assembled in a parking lot at JPL before being hoisted via a 50-ton crane and fastened onto the side of the High Bay of the Spacecraft Assembly Facility, the robot factory where NASA’s twin Voyager spacecraft, Galileo, and all of the agency’s Mars rovers were built. Structural steel beams were welded in place to support the new sign.
The job of creating, sizing, and placing the sign fell to The Studio, part of JPL’s graphic design and visual strategy team. The historic location they chose for the sign was only fitting, although the decision was grounded in pragmatism.
“We were trying to find a building that worked both in location and was the right size, height, and shape,” said Dan Goods, manager of The Studio. “While we were originally just looking for a proper surface, the fact that it’s our High Bay was a happy accident that gives it more significance.”
JPL’s location at the base of the foothills dates back to 1936, when a group of rocket enthusiasts, working under Caltech graduate student Frank Malina, conducted rocket-firing tests at the site. JPL, a division of Caltech, grew throughout the 1940s and ’50s and ultimately built and helped launch America’s first satellite, Explorer 1, in 1958. By the end of that year, Congress established NASA and JPL became a part of the agency. Caltech manages JPL for NASA.
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Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
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Over the course of this work, we have identified improvements that were needed, as well as many obstacles that have affected success and should be considered in program management and oversight. While drawing on past work relating to U.S. development efforts in Afghanistan, this testimony focuses on findings in our most recent report released yesterday on the USAID's management and oversight of its agricultural programs in Afghanistan. It will address (1) the challenges the United States faces in managing and overseeing development programs in Afghanistan; and (2) the extent to which USAID has followed its established performance management and evaluation procedures.Various factors challenge U.S. efforts to ensure proper management and oversight of U.S. development efforts in Afghanistan. Among the most significant has been the "high-threat" working environment, the difficulties in preserving institutional knowledge due to the lack of a formal mechanism for retaining and sharing information during staff turnover, and the Afghan government ministries' lack of capacity and corruption challenges. USAID has taken some steps to assess and begin addressing the limited capacity and corruption challenges associated with Afghan ministries. In addition, USAID has established performance management and evaluation procedures for managing and overseeing its assistance programs. These procedures, among other things, require (1) the development of a Mission Performance Management Plan (PMP); (2) the establishment and approval of implementing partner performance indicators and targets; and (3) analyses and use of performance data. 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For example, only 2 of 7 USAID-funded agricultural programs active during fiscal year 2009, included in our review, had targets for all of their indicators. We also found that USAID could improve its assessment and use of performance data submitted by implementing partners or program evaluations to, among other things, help identify strengths or weaknesses of ongoing or completed programs. Moreover, USAID needs to improve documentation of its programmatic decisions and put mechanisms in place for program managers to transfer knowledge to their successors. Finally, USAID has not fully addressed the risks of relying on contractor staff to perform inherently governmental tasks, such as awarding and administering grants. In the absence of consistent application of its existing performance management and evaluation procedures, USAID programs are more vulnerable to corruption, waste, fraud, and abuse. 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