Washington and Lee University School of Law

Washington and Lee University School of Law

Friday, July 17, 2009

Wanna Feel Gravity? File a GAO Report for NASA

Lindsay Hitz, a rising 2L from Hershey, PA, is interning with the Office of Chief Counsel (OCC) at NASA Langley Research Center.

Searching through piles of paper, documenting privileged communications, and discerning a logical order for thousands of pages are just a few of the steps required to assemble a report to the GAO. The majority of my time over the past week has been spent assisting attorneys on the BLT with a discovery request for pending procurement litigation. In the process of compiling a record composed of over 20,000 pages, I have been able to learn a lot about the case simply by sifting through the massive amount of documents. Now that the record is physically compiled, the next step will be to assist the attorneys with research necessary to write the agency response brief.

While I admit that placing documents in binders for hours on end is not necessarily a glamorous or intellectually stimulating task, I appreciate being exposed to the process of compiling an agency report. I think that is important to realize all of the work and thought that goes into these seemingly menial tasks in order to have a better understanding of the case as a whole. My internship will end before this case reaches the hearing stage, but I am glad that I had the opportunity to play a role and look forward to checking in with the attorneys this fall to find out the result.

In between sifting through documents, I had the opportunity to take a break to attend the LARSS weekly lecture. This week a former astronaut, Dr. Roger Crouch, spoke about his experiences as a Payload Specialist in space. He gave a very descriptive and honest account of his experiences. From the fear and anxiety that he felt right before lift-off to the way his lungs responded to the pressure of take-off, Dr. Crouch painted a detailed picture of life as an astronaut. I was fascinated to hear about the sometimes difficult transition astronauts experienced upon returning to Earth. In a humorous tone, Dr. Crouch depicted times when he would wake up in his bed at home and attempt to push off as if he was still in the shuttle. As you can imagine, the result on Earth was a little different and a little painful.

The lecture included many other interesting tidbits and was probably my favorite up to this point. Next week is the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11 landing on the moon. In celebration, NASA will have viewings of "The Wonder of it All," an Apollo documentary, and a live viewing of interviews with six Apollo astronauts. I look forward to participating in the celebration!

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