Space: The Final Frontier for Federal Service

An overall view of the space station flight control room in the Mission Control Center at NASA's Johnson Space Center. (Photo: NASA)
An overall view of the space station flight control room in the Mission Control Center at NASA's Johnson Space Center. (Photo: NASA)

Albert Gonzales has an office job, but it isn't much like the ones you're probably familiar with: Instead of a cubicle, Gonzales works in NASA's world-famous flight control room, where he holds conference calls with astronauts and his computer has a high-speed link to outer space.

As a shuttle flight controller at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Gonzales might very well be the guy on the other end of the line when an astronaut says, "Mission to ground control." For most people, getting a job with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration might as well be a mission to Mars, but it seems a job at NASA was in the stars for Gonzales.

Related: Search for Government jobs.

Gonzales spent his time at Texas A&M majoring in aerospace engineering but didn't initially consider a career with the space program. "When I was studying, I can honestly say NASA or space exploration was not something that was in my eyes," he says. "I was more of a 'let's build fighter jets' kind of guy."

"With an engineering degree, you can do real engineering work where you're designing and building something or you can apply your degree and use it for operations, real-time," Gonzales says. "I chose to do the latter of the two."

His decision to consider a job with the federal government definitely paid off. As a NASA employee, Gonzales has already had the opportunity to work on more than 10 secondary and three lead teams for space shuttle missions, and he's only 28 years old.

During manned space flights, Gonzales is one of 12 members of three separate, rotating teams that monitor the activities of the shuttle around the clock. "It's not always an 8-to-5 situation," he says. "You might be expected on a mission to come in at midnight, 2 in the morning, and work your eight to nine-hour shift accordingly."

Related: Does your resume pass the 6-second test? Get a FREE assessment.

From his console at the flight control room -- the nerve center of mission control -- Gonzales follows the ever-changing data that's sent from the shuttle. He scans and evaluates the information that appears on the many monitors surrounding him. Data points show him detailed aspects of the shuttle's operation, from its internal and external air pressure to the equipment stability and the humidity of the orbiter. Of course, being a flight controller isn't all numbers and graphs. Gonzales has earned the nickname "Tigger" among his coworkers, because he's "always bouncing off walls and very upbeat." But this tiger isn't ferocious. He gets along well with the other flight controllers and enjoys working as part of a group. "There's no 'I' in team," Gonzales says. "I know that's a little cliche or a little pun.but everyone will have to eventually work with somebody. You can't do it all on your own."

While his responsibilities are astronomical, Gonzales is humble about the work he does. "It's a job," he says simply. "It just happens to be that we work here with human space flight."

Related: Discover your perfect career path and get customized job recommendations based on your military experience and vocational interests with Military.com's Military Skills Translator + Personality Assessment.

The Next Step: Find the Right Veteran Job

Whether you want to polish up your resume, find veteran job fairs in your area, or connect with employers looking to hire veterans, Military.com can help. Sign up for a free Military.com membership to have job postings, guides and advice, and more delivered directly to your inbox.

Show Full Article

Most Recent Government Job Posts

  • Web Designer - Senior
    Bowhead - McLean, VA - UIC Government Services (UICGS / Bowhead) provides innovative business...of the top 25 8(a) companies for government contracting......
  • Tactical Aviation Subject Matter Expert
    Scientific Research Corporation - Patuxent River, MD, 20670 - that provides innovative products and services to government and private industry, as well as independent...Applicants...
  • Engineering Technician VI
    INDUS Technology, Inc. - San Diego, CA - 6 technicians, perform in a blended government -contractor team environment....Provide regular updates to both government and contractor su...
  • CAD Designer/Drafter III
    AMERICAN SYSTEMS - Norwich, CT, 06360 - We are a government services contractor focused on delivering Strategic Solutions to......
  • Senior Full Stack Java Developer
    Eliassen Group - Washington, DC - our team helping support our client, the Government Accountability Office, in its mission to save...subject area experts in all facets of governme...
View More