This is tragic.
My sentencing is set for Nov. 6 at 9:30 am. It is located at the Prettyman Courthouse at 333 Constitution Avenue, NW, Courtroom II, Wash, DC 20001 (presided over by The Hon. Rosemary Collyer).
Meanwhile, my aerospace business and family finances are devastated. A friend, a Palestinian who runs a cafe in Sterling, VA, offered me a job in his kitchen – washing dishes and such related duties. (It shows that Jews and Palestinians can indeed work together !). I was brought up by Great Depression parents to believe that all honest work is noble and so I took it. The owner and his hard working family members, with whom I am honored to work, are great people and teach me everyday about grace and dignity.
I spent 30 years in the space world. It was my passion and I miss it terribly – especially being able to participate in the ongoing policy debates. But I realize that that chapter of my life is now closed. My mentor, the late Dr. Steve Cheston, Associate Dean at Georgetown where I was a student, and who had a decisive influence on my interest in space (he introduced me to the late Gerard K. O’Neill), warned me that there might be times in life when space advocacy will be a vocation or an avocation. I guess it will now be a permanent avocation. (I still catch a glimpse of NASAWatch from time to time. And I got up early to watch NASA’s LCROSS mission. Old habits die hard!)
I have tried my whole life to live an ethical and law abiding life. Money and the acquisition of material things have meant little to me. I had a great role model. My late Father spent twenty years paying off debts left over when a business partner of his suddenly vanished. For him, bankruptcy and walking away from those debts was unthinkable. A man’s word is sacred. And, ironically, I was traumatized as a young child watching an equally innocent family friend become entrapped in a legal battle that led him to ultimately end his life. That trauma taught me to be as transparent as possible in all my actions. And I have some close friends and colleagues in NASA, the contractor and entrepreneurial space world that I love dearly. To think that there are those who would seek to associate me with any actions that would reflect negatively on the agency, its people and my meager efforts to give voice to helping our nation’s space program is very painful.
I will gladly devote a lifetime to thanking the many friends and colleagues (in and out of government) who have invested time in sending letters to the Judge about my character. A number of letters are from young people and their parents who described how I impacted their lives in various ways. It is humbling while also awkward and even embarrassing that people are having to take time to share some private anecdotes that I believe that people should do for one another because, well, it is the right thing to do. A handful of people have proven to be fair weather friends but the vast majority have reaffirmed my faith in the basic goodness of people.
Clearly, I made some serous political enemies who have fueled this nearly five year ordeal. (At the same time, I have been exposed to some good souls in the justice system — e.g., guards, court bailiffs, pre-trial services officers — who try, in their own small way, to preserve some sense of dignity for those of us who find ourselves in the defendant’s seat.)
Feel free to print the picture or whatever else you wish. Not much can be done to help me at this point (it certainly won’t hurt) but perhaps my situation will help others.
I have no idea what the future will bring. Surviving on minimal wage can only take one so far. But I have been reintroduced to my roots – the blue collar working class who are the invisible men and women of our society. (My mother was a former waitress and I worked as a youth on an assembly line.) Their work ethic and ability to get up everyday and deal with daily survival issues is pretty inspiring – especially in the face of today’s tough economic challenges. When they sometimes ask what I did in my previous life I find that invariably their eyes light up at the mention of NASA and the world of exploration. Not a few say that they hope that their sacrifices will lead their kids to pursue careers as engineers and scientists and perhaps be part of what many clearly view as uniquely American – pushing beyond the frontier.
God bless you… my former entrepreneurial space colleagues who continue to defy the naysayers, occasionally fail but pick themselves up and continue on to pursue the magnificent dreams associated with space exploration. Please know that I will be applauding from whatever “peanut gallery” I end up residing.
Anyone who knows Courtney and wants to help should send letters to the judge. I hope that we can get him back soon, and fight the good fight for our future in space once again.