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Richard Borda (1931– ) was assistant secretary of the Air Force for Reserve Affairs, 1970-1973.
Harold Brown (1927-) was director of Defense Research and Engineering at the Pentagon, 1961-1965, before becoming secretary of the Air Force, 1965-1969. After spending eight years as the president of the California Institute of Technology, he returned to Washington to serve as the secretary of defense in the Carter administration, 1977-1981. He currently works at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
John Chafee (1922–) was the secretary of the Navy, 1969–1972. In 1976, he was elected to the U.S. Senate as a Democrat from Rhode Island and has served there since.
Roger Chaffee (1935-1967) was a Navy lieutenant commander and astronaut who had never flown in space. Chaffee, along with his crewmates Gus Grissom and Ed White, were killed when their Apollo 204 capsule was engulfed in flames on the launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center.
Leighton (Lee) Davis was an Air Force lieutenant general who served as the National Range Division commander from 1960 to 1967. He received a Distinguished Service Medal for his role as the Department of Defense manager for the Mercury and Gemini programs.
Kurt Debus (1908-1983) was a German engineer who came to the United States in 1945 with a group of engineers and scientists headed by Wernher von Braun. After working at Fort Bliss, Texas, and the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama, Debus moved to Cape Canaveral, Florida, where he supervised the launching of the first ballistic missile fired from there. Debus became director of the Launch Operations Center and then of the Kennedy Space Center, as it was renamed in December 1963. He retired from that position in 1974.
Charles Stark (Doc) Draper (1901-1987) earned his Ph.D. in physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1938 and became a full professor there the following year. In that same year, he founded the Instrumentation Laboratory. Its first major achievement was the Mark 14 gyroscopic gunsight for Navy antiaircraft guns. Draper and the lab applied gyroscopic principles to the development of inertial guidance systems for airplanes, missiles, submarines, ships, satellites, and space vehicles—notably those used in the Apollo Moon landings. Draper was a mentor to many future students in aerospace engineering.
Hugh Dryden (1898–1965) was a career civil servant and an aerodynamicist by discipline who had begun life as something of a child prodigy. He graduated at age 14 from high school and earned an A.B. in three years from Johns Hopkins (1916). Three years later (1919), he earned his Ph.D. in physics and mathematics from the same institution, even though he had been employed full time by the National Bureau of Standards since June 1918. His career at the Bureau of Standards, which lasted until 1947, included becoming its assistant director and then associate director during his final two years there. Dryden served as director of the NACA, 1947-1958, after which he became deputy administrator of NASA under T. Keith Glennan and James E. Webb.
Maxime Faget (1921-), an aeronautical engineer with a B.S. from Louisiana State University (1943), joined the staff at Langley Aeronautical Laboratory in 1946 and soon became head of the Performance Aerodynamics Branch of the Pilotless Aircraft Research Division. In 1958 he joined the Space Task Group in NASA, forerunner of the NASA Manned Spacecraft Center (later renamed the Johnson Space Center), became its assistant director for engineering and development in 1962, and later its director. He contributed many of the original design concepts for Project Mercury's crewed spacecraft and played a major role in designing virtually every U.S. crewed spacecraft since that time, including the Space Shuttle. He retired from NASA in 1981 and became an executive for Eagle Engineering, Inc. In 1982 he was one of the founders of Space Industries, Inc., and became its president and chief executive officer.
Robert Gilruth (1913-) was a longtime NACA engineer who worked at the Langley Aeronautical Laboratory, 1937-1946, then as chief of the Pilotless Aircraft Research Division at Wallops Island, 1946–1952. He had been exploring the possibility of human spaceflight before the creation of NASA. He served as assistant director at Langley, 1952-1959, and as assistant director (crewed satellites) and head of Project Mercury, 1959–1961-technically assigned to the Goddard Space Flight Center but physically located at Langley. In early 1961, T. Keith Glennan established an independent Space Task Group (already the
group's name as an independent subdivision of Goddard) under Gilruth at Langley to supervise the Mercury program. This group moved to the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston in 1962. Gilruth was then director of the Houston operation, 1962-1972.
John Glenn (1921-) earned a B.S. in engineering from Muskingum College and became a colonel in the Marine Corps. A member of NASA's first class of astronauts, Glenn was the first American to orbit the Earth, which he did in 1962 on the Mercury-Atlas 6 (Friendship 7) mission. First elected to the U.S. Senate in 1975, he is still a Democratic Senator from Ohio.
T. Keith Glennan (1905-1995) served as the first administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration from August 1958 to January 1961. Glennan had worked in the sound motion picture industry in the 1930s and joined the Columbia University Division of War Research in 1942. In 1947 he became president of the Case Institute of Technology. From October 1950 to November 1952, he served as a member of the Atomic Energy Commission. Upon leaving NASA in 1961, Glennan returned to Case, where he continued to serve as president until 1966.
Harry Goett (1910-) was an aeronautical engineer who began working at the Langley Aeronautical Laboratory in 1936 and then worked at the Ames Aeronautical Laboratory, 1948-1959. In 1959 he became director of the Goddard Space Flight Center, a post he held until July 1965, when he became a special assistant to NASA Administrator James E. Webb. Later that year, he shifted over to the private sector, working at Philco's Western Development Laboratories in California and then at Ford Aerospace and Communications.
Virgil (Gus) Grissom (1927-1967) was chosen for the first group of astronauts in 1959. He was the pilot for the 1961 Mercury-Redstone 4 (Liberty Bell 7) mission, a suborbital flight; the command pilot for Gemini III; and the backup command pilot for Gemini VI. He had been selected as commander of the first Apollo flight at the time of his death in the Apollo 204 fire in January 1967.
Grant Hansen (1921-) was the assistant secretary of the Air Force for Research and Development, 1969-1973.
D. Brainerd Holmes (1921-) was involved in the management of high technology efforts in private industry and the federal government. He was on the staff of Bell Telephone Laboratories, 1945-1953, and RCA, 1953-1961. He then became deputy associate administrator for manned space flight at NASA, 1961-1963. Holmes left NASA to work for the Raytheon Corporation.
John Houbolt (1919–) was an engineer who worked as an aircraft structures specialist at NASA's Langley Research Center. After President Kennedy announced his 1961 decision to put an American on the Moon, Houbolt was instrumental in the technical decision to adopt the lunar-orbit rendezvous approach for the Apollo program. Houbolt left NASA in 1963 for the private sector, but he returned to Langley in 1976 before retiring in 1985.
Hubert Humphrey (1911-1978) (D-MN) served as a U.S. senator from Minnesota, 1949-1964 and 1971-1978. As senator, he pressed for the creation of a cabinet-level Department of Science and Technology in early 1958, which was defeated by President Eisenhower's proposal to establish NASA. He was Vice President of the United States, 1965-1969, under Lyndon Johnson, but he lost the presidential election to Nixon in 1968.
John Johnson (1915-) served as general counsel of the Air Force, 1952-1958. He accepted the same position at NASA in 1958. In 1963 he left NASA to join the Communications Satellite Corporation. He retired in 1980.
Lyndon Johnson (1908–1973) (D–TX) was a U.S. senator, 1949–1960, Vice President of the United States, 1960-1963, and President, 1963-1969. Best known for the social legislation he passed during his presidency and for his escalation of the war in Vietnam, he was also highly instrumental in revising and passing the legislation that created NASA and in supporting the U.S. space program as chair of the Committee on Aeronautical and Space Sciences and of the preparedness subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee. He later chaired the National Aeronautics and Space Council (as Vice President under President Kennedy). David C. Jones (1921-) joined the Air Force during World War II and advanced through the ranks, becoming the deputy commander of operations in Vietnam, the Air Force chief of staff, 1974-1978, and finally the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 1978-1982.
John Kennedy (1916-1963) was President of the United States, 1961-1963. In 1960, as a senator from Massachusetts (1953-1960), he ran for President as the Democratic candidate, with Lyndon Johnson as his running mate. On May 25, 1961, President Kennedy announced to the nation the goal of sending an American to the Moon before the end of the decade. The human spaceflight imperative was a direct outgrowth of it; Projects Mercury (at least in its latter stages), Gemini, and Apollo were each designed to execute it.
Robert Kerr (1896–1963) (D–OK) was governor of Oklahoma, 1943-1947, and then was elected to the Senate the following year. From 1961 to 1963, he chaired the Committee on Aeronautical and Space Sciences.
James Killian, Jr. (1904–1988), who was president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), 1949-1959, took leave between November 1957 and July 1959 to serve as the first presidential science advisor. President Dwight D. Eisenhower established the President's Science Advisory Committee, which Killian chaired, following the Sputnik crisis. After leaving the White House staff in 1959, Killian continued his work at MIT, but in 1965 he began working with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to develop public television.
Melvin Laird (1922– ) was secretary of defense, 1969-1973, during the Nixon administration. He later served on the boards of directors of a number of major corporations.
George Low (1926–1984) was an Austrian aeronautical engineer who joined the NACA in 1949. He became chief of manned spaceflight at NASA Headquarters in 1958. In 1960 he chaired a special committee that formulated the original plans for the Apollo lunar landings. In 1964 he became deputy director of the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston, the forerunner of the Johnson Space Center. He became deputy administrator of NASA in 1969 and served as acting administrator, 1970-1971. He retired from NASA in 1976 to become president of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, a position he held until his death. In 1990 NASA renamed its quality and excellence award after him.
John McLucas (1920–) was the under secretary of the Air Force, 1969–1973, and then secretary, 1973-1975. From 1975 to 1977, he served as the administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration.
Robert McNamara (1916– ) was secretary of defense during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, 1961-1968. Thereafter, he served as president of the World Bank, where he remained until retirement in 1981. As secretary of defense in 1961, McNamara was intimately involved in the Kennedy administration's process of approving Project Apollo.
Walter Mondale (1928-) was Vice President of the United States under President Jimmy Carter (1977-1981). He ran for President himself in 1984 but lost to incumbent Ronald Reagan. Mondale served in the Senate as a Democrat from Minnesota, 1964–1977, and was considered a harsh critic of large technology programs such as the Space Shuttle. He currently serves as the Clinton administration's ambassador to Japan.
George Mueller (1918– ) was associate administrator for manned spaceflight at NASA Headquarters, 1963-1969, where he was responsible for overseeing the completion of Project Apollo and beginning the development of the Space Shuttle. He left NASA for private industry in 1969.