Tuesday, April 03, 2012

The moon landing +25 years: Some of the players.

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The IEEE Spectrum Moon Landing issue highlighted several people who made significant contributions, many of which I had never heard of (or at least whose names I'd forgotten).  So, here are some of players, with a just few of their accomplishments.
  • President John F. Kennedy - He's the one who made the speech. 
  • Arthur C. Clark - No direct involvement, but he was a member of the British Interplanetary Society's committee that, in 1939, designed the Lunar Space-ship. Although never realized, the design fueled the imaginations of generations, "preparing the public mind for it."
  • George Mueller - As Associate Administrator, he made the decision to do an "all up" unmanned test of the entire vehicle stack, ensuring the program proceeded on-schedule.
  • Wernher von Braun - Father of the Saturn V, "moonomaniac", visionary, scientist, manager, motivator of people.  'Nuff said.
  • Norman Sears - Apollo manager at MIT's Instrumentation Lab (now Draper Labs). "Pressed to the limit" three times (on Apollo 11, 13 and 14), he and his team jury rigged and reprogrammed the flight software.
  • Charles Draper - Designed the Spire (SPace Inertial Reference Equipment) at MIT.
  • John Houbolt - Dynamics engineer and lead author of the 1961 report Manned Lunar Landing via Rendezvous.   Father of the idea of dropping a lander from an orbiting craft.
  • Thomas Kelley - Chief engineer for the Lunar Module at Grumman.  Burped Apollo 11's engine to clear a clog in a hydrazine line. Risk analysis was pioneered in Apollo.  Regarding the termination of the program, Tom said "...there's a lot to be said for quitting while you were ahead."
  • Robert Seamans - As NASA Deputy Administrator, Asked the Apollo 11 Orbiter to tilt and take some photos.  The famous photo of the Copernicus crater helped rejuvinate the public's excitement.
  • The Apollo Astronauts - Yeah, ALL those guys.