|Lusa and Isa Naea|
Maselusa and Luisa Naea are the First Samoans who worked in the NASA space Program. Now with Le Malae
The NASA Space Program is a very exclusive club which has been responsible for some of the most historic scientific accomplishments in the last century. As it turns out there were a couple of Samoans who were right there working in the Space program while the Space Shuttle was flying such historic missions into space delivering such highly sensitive equipment as the Hubble telescope and providing support for other very important space missions.
These Samoans are Maselusa and Luisa Naea, who are married and have both worked in the Space Program for over 20 years. Now retired they reside in Florida and have agreed to assist Le Malae by providing news stories from the beautiful state of Florida where there is a large community of Samoans. Both Lusa and Isa are very proud of their heritage as Samoans and Le Malae is so proud to have them provide the news for this website Samoans in Florida. We at Le Malae welcome them aboard and here is more from their own account of their amazing story.
I was born in Utulei, Tutuila, America Samoa. My mom is the daughter of Lauvao Lutali and Tagata Nomura. My dad is from the Atuatasi/Sale family in Fagasa, American Samoa. We moved to Hawaii in the early 1950s when my father joined the US Military (Marine), dad served several tours in Korea and Vietnam.
Lusa and I met in a volleyball game in Santa Ana, California. He spiked the ball and hit me on the face, as I was crying, he comforted me and said he was sorry and asked for my phone number. We got married soon after when I was 16 years old. We tied the knot at the love chapel in Las Vegas, Nevada in 1968, soon after we now have 6 children.
As a young mother I worked for several electronic companies, Ford Aerospace, Digital Equipment, Quintron Electronics and Computer Science Corporation. My ultimate dream career landed me at Kennedy Space Center supporting the Americas Space Program for 18 years as a Thermal Protection System Technician installing and repairing flight tiles as well as Thermal Blankets for NASA space shuttle fleet. I worked on the Solid Rocket Booster side of the program for a year and half. The space program sent us a book that included names of all those that worked in the space shuttle program, two Samoans are in it. I mention the book, not to brag, instead to make a point that you have to create your own dream or circumstances and follow it through with vigor and determination along with prayer & faith that you will succeed.
I was born in Ta'u Manu'a, my mom Matava'a Ve'a is from Manu'a and my dad Fatu Naea is from the village of Eva in Upolu. Our family moved to Hawaii in the early 1960s, I went to Roosevelt High School there. We moved to California and I met Louise (Isa), got married and the rest is history.
After graduating from high school I applied for a job, got my first interview and hired by McDonald Douglas Aircraft company in Huntington Beach, California, supporting the Manned Orbiting Laboratory program. In July 1969, I watched the Apollo 11 moon landing mission launched from Kennedy Space Center in Florida and I told my wife that one day I want to work there.
While awaiting for an opportunity to realize my dream, I positioned myself to learn how precision products such as the Apollo spacecraft were made. I gained knowledge in the aerospace inspection field per ASME Y14.5 Geometric Dimension and Tolerancing system. I was certified testing Minuteman Missile II guidance control systems for Rockwell International and later on worked for Northrop Electronics Division in Hawthorne, California testing the USAF MX-Missile navigation control system.
After 12 years of pursuing my dream, I got hired to work for the USAF/NASA military space shuttle program at Vandenberg Air Force Base and transitioned to Kennedy Space Center in Florida after the space shuttle challenger exploded during launch. I was fortunate to work with the same folks that launched the Apollo 11 moon landing mission. If you expect and believe in results you have to do something, Napoleon Hill said this, only if you believe, you can achieve, you don't have to take Napoleon Hill's word, the creator of the universe proclaimed, “with God all things are possible”. So why not dream big, you will succeed anyway if that is what you really want.
This a momental scoop for our website which we believe Le Malae is the first to acknowledge these two Samoans contributions to the American Space program which is an amazing feat in and of itself. As they both presented in their own written biographies, this was an opportunity of a lifetime and when it presented itself they took it. As was said by a star in the recent Super bowl game, Seattle Quarterback Russell Wilson, when he quoted what his father told him, "Why not you?" Thats how Lusa and Isa seem to have taken their live's paths which when the opportunity presented itself, they said "Why not us?"
Great pioneers for the Space program and for our Samoan youth to know that our Samoan people were good enough to be included in such exclusive high tech and scientific fields as NASA. This is a great testimony of our people's desire to succeed and when they are determined to do so, they do succeed no matter what the level of skill and knowledge required.
Florida's Space program is an amazing sight.