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Key Figures in the History of Space Exploration

Table of Contents                                                                                Glossary


, George W. S. (b. 1932): Deputy Associate Administrator for Space Flight, NASA Headquarters (1988-1991). Responsible for the development and operation of the Space Transportation System. Director, Johnson Space Center (JSC), Houston, Texas (1996-2001). Planned, organized, and directed all activities required to accomplish the missions assigned to JSC.

, Ira H. (b. 1906): A prominent aeronautical engineer in the early years of the American space program, Abbott joined the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory, Hampton, Virginia, in 1929. Assistant Chief of Research, Langley (1945-1948). National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) Assistant Director of Aerodynamics Research (1948-1959). NASA Director of Advanced Research Programs (1959-1961). Director of Advanced Research and Technology (1961-1962). Supervised the X-15, the supersonic transport, the nuclear rocket, and the advanced reentry programs.

, James A., Jr. (b. 1933): Lieutenant General, United States Air Force (Retired). NASA Associate Administrator, Space Transportation System (1980-1984). Director, Strategic Defense Initiative Organization (1984-1989).

, Michael J. (1930-1967): Major, United States Air Force. Chosen for the Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL) program and transferred to the X-15 program. He made seven flights in the X-15. On November 15, 1967, after attaining an altitude of 81 kilometers, the X-15 crashed, killing him. He was posthumously awarded Air Force astronaut wings, because his final flight exceeded 80 kilometers in altitude. Adams was the only pilot lost in the 199-flight X-15 program.

, Michael F.: Professor, University of Maryland (1982-present). He developed a variety of observational techniques to study the structure and composition of comets. Asteroid 3192 was named for A'Hearn for his contributions to the field of cometary science. As the Principal Investigator for the Deep Impact mission, Professor A'Hearn would be responsible for the mission's overall success in meeting its science objectives.

, Phillip: Colonel, United States Air Force. Deputy Program Director, X-30 National AeroSpace Plane (NASP), 1993-1994.

, Edwin E. "Buzz," Jr. (b. 1930): Colonel, United States Air Force (Retired). NASA Astronaut (1963-1971), Gemini XII Pilot, Apollo 11 Lunar Module Pilot. Second human to walk on the Moon. Gemini IX Backup Pilot. Apollo 8 Backup Command Module Pilot. His books include Return to Earth (1974), an account of his Moon trip and his views on the United States' future in space, Men from Earth (1989), and a science-fiction novel, Encounter with Tiber (1996). A small crater on the Moon near the Apollo 11 landing site is named in his honor. He also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Hollywood and Vine in Los Angeles.

, Alexander P. (b. 1943): Soviet/Russian Cosmonaut (1978-1993). Flight Engineer on Soyuz T-9 and Soyuz TM-3. Altogether, he spent 309 days, 18 hours, and 3 minutes in space. Chief of Russian NPO Energia Cosmonaut group (1993-1996). Chief Flight Test Director of S. P. Korolev Rocket and Space Corporation Energia, also known as RKK Energia (1996-present). Cochair for the Crew Training and Exchange Working Group, Shuttle-Mir Phase 1 Program (1995-1998).

, H. Julian (1910-1977): Director, NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California (1965-1969). Senior Aeronautical Engineer at Ames and Chief of the High-Speed Research Division (1945-1959). Ames Assistant Director for Astronautics (1959-1965). In 1952, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) was already thinking about aircraft that went very high and had to reenter the Earth's atmosphere at a high rate of speed, producing a great deal of heat. That year, Allen conceived the "blunt nose principle," which suggested that a blunt shape would absorb only a very small fraction of the heat generated by the reentry of a body into the Earth's atmosphere. The principle was later significant to the development of the intercontinental ballistic missile nose cone and NASA Mercury capsule. The H. Julian Allen Award is presented annually by NASA Ames Research Center for outstanding research.

, Joseph P. (b. 1937): NASA Astronaut (1967-1985). Mission Specialist on STS-5 and STS 51-A. Flew the first space salvage attempt in history (STS 51-A), using the Manned Maneuvering Unit to retrieve the Palapa B2 and Westar 6 communications satellites and return them to Earth. NASA Assistant Administrator for Legislative Affairs in Washington, D.C. (1975-1978). Chief executive officer, Space Industries, Houston, Texas (1989-2004).

, Lew, Jr. (b. 1925): General, United States Air Force (Retired). Vice President, California Institute of Technology and Director, Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, California (1982-1990). Chair of the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory, Inc. Tenth Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force and a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Washington, D.C. Allen also served as Director of the National Security Agency (1973-1977). Member, National Academy of Engineering. The Air Force remembers Allen with the General Lew Allen, Jr., Trophy, which is presented to a baselevel officer and noncommissioned officer in recognition of outstanding performance in aircraft sortie-generation.

, Joseph S. (1864-1943): President of Johns Hopkins University (1929-1935). One of the first members (1915) and chairperson of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), 1927-1939. When Ames retired as NACA Chairperson, President Franklin Roosevelt cited him for his "inspiring leadership in the development of new research facilities and in the orderly prosecution of comprehensive research programs." NACA renamed the Moffett Field Laboratory the Ames Aeronautical Laboratory (now the Ames Research Center) in 1944.

, William A. (b. 1933): Major General, United States Air Force (Retired). NASA Astronaut (1964-1969). Apollo 8 Lunar Module Pilot. Flew the first spacecraft to leave Earth's orbit, leave the influence of Earth's gravity, and orbit the Moon (Apollo 8). Vice President and General Manager of General Electric's Nuclear Products Division, San Jose, California (1977-1980). General Manager of the General Electric Aircraft Equipment Division, Utica, New York (1980-1984). Executive Vice President for Aerospace at Textron (1984-1986) and Senior Executive Vice President for Operations (1986-1990). In 1990, Anders became Vice Chairperson of General Dynamics. On January 1, 1991, he became its Chairperson and CEO. He retired in 1993 but remained Chairperson until May, 1994.

, Michael P. (1959-2003): NASA Astronaut (1994-2003). STS-89 Mission Specialist, STS-107 Payload Commander. He was killed when the space shuttle Columbia (STS-107) disintegrated during orbital reentry into the Earth's atmosphere.

, Neil A. (b. 1930): Civilian Test Pilot for NASA at Edwards Air Force Base in California, flying the X-15 (1955-1962). He made a total of seven flights in the rocket plane, reaching an altitude of 63 kilometers in the X-15-3 and a Mach number of 5.74 (6,420 kilometers per hour) in the X-15-1. Pilot involved in the canceled U.S. Air Force Dyna-Soar orbital glider program (1960-1962). NASA Astronaut (1962-1971), Apollo 8 Backup Mission Commander, Gemini XI Backup Command Pilot, Gemini V Backup Command Pilot, Gemini VIII Command Pilot, Gemini XIII Command Pilot, and Apollo 11 Commander. First human to walk on the Moon. There is a small crater on the Moon near the Apollo 11 landing site that is named in his honor. Armstrong joined the faculty of the University of Cincinnati in 1971 and remained there as a professor of aerospace engineering until 1979. Chairperson, Presidential Advisory Committee for the Peace Corps (1971-1973). Member of the National Commission on Space (1985-1986). Vice Chairperson of the Presidential Commission on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident (1986).

, Raymond E. (b. 1948): Chair of the Earth and Planetary Sciences Department and Director of the Earth and Planetary Remote Sensing Laboratory at Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri. He was the Team Leader for the Viking Lander Imaging System for the extended missions and a Member of the Venus Orbiter Magellan Science Team. In 2005, he was the Director, Geosciences Node of NASA's Planetary Data System (PDS), an Interdisciplinary Scientist on Mars Global Surveyor and Mars Odyssey Missions, the Deputy Principal Investigator for the Mars Surveyor Rover Mission, and a Coinvestigator for the hyperspectral imaging systems on the European Mars Express and the NASA Mars Reconnaissance orbiters.

, Ghassem R. (b. 1951): NASA Science Deputy Associate Administrator (as of 2004), NASA Earth Science Enterprise (ESE) Associate Administrator (1987-2004). Since Asrar became the Associate Administrator, ESE has successfully launched the first EOS satellites and developed a comprehensive data and information system for managing the wealth of information resulting from these missions.

, Kenneth L.: Stardust Project Manager, Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, California (1995-1999).

, Neal E., Jr.: Galileo Mission Director, Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, California.

, Gene (b. 1928): X-33 Program Manager, Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC), Huntsville, Alabama (1996-2001).

, Georgi Nikolaevich (1914-1971): From 1965 until his death in 1971, Babakin led the development of planetary spacecraft at the Lavochkin design bureau.

, James T.: Search and Rescue Satellite-Aided Tracking (SARSAT) Program Manager.

, Vladimir Pavlovich (1909-1993): Pioneer of the Soviet rocket program who led the development of launch infrastructure for Russian rocketry.

, Bob: X-38 Project Manager at Dryden Flight Research Center (DFRC), Edwards, California (1995-2002).

, Charles A., II (1931-1966): Captain, United States Air Force. NASA Astronaut, (1931-1966), original Gemini IX Pilot. Died February 28, 1966, in St. Louis, Missouri, in the crash of his T-38 jet.

, David A.: Founder (in 1993) and former Chairperson of the Board of Leo One Worldwide, Inc., the company that builds, launches, and operates a forty-eight-satellite Little LEO (low-Earth-orbit) satellite system to provide wireless messaging services throughout the world. Bayer contributed to the FCC rule-making process for cellular licensing and participated in the coalition to persuade the FCC to devise a duopoly structure for licensing.

, Alan L. (b. 1932): Captain, United States Navy (Retired). NASA Astronaut (1963-1981), Apollo 12 Lunar Module Pilot, Skylab 3 Commander. Fourth human to walk on the Moon (Apollo 12). Bean resigned from NASA in June, 1981, to devote his time to painting. Many of his paintings reside on the walls of space enthusiasts. He said his decision was based on the fact that, in his eighteen years as an astronaut, he was fortunate enough to visit worlds and see sights no artist's eye, past or present, has ever viewed firsthand and he hopes to express these experiences through the medium of art. Visit the Alan Bean Art Gallery at

, Joseph G. (b. 1943): Flight Operations Manager for the Mars Global Surveyor, Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, California. Beerer joined JPL in 1969 as an engineer in the Mission Design Section and has worked on a variety of spacecr...

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