Thursday, January 24, 2013

It Was Rocket Science

Flash Gordon was my childhood hero
by Donald C.

When I was nine-years-old, I made rocket ships out of Carnation milk cans after watching Flash Gordon Saturday movie serials. While attending Cal Poly, Convair Astronautics had me doing a drafting job for Atlas sites at Vandenberg Air Force Base for six months. I watched the first Atlas launch from Vandenberg in September 1959.
I became a rocket engineer at Douglas (Santa Monica) helping to develop Nike Zeus, the first ABM missile. Six months later, on July 17, 1962, Lockheed Missile Systems Division in Sunnyvale hired me to perform test analysis on Polaris A3 and advanced Polaris boost motors. In 1965, I moved to our field offices at Hercules Industries in Utah to start the Poseidon C3 boost motors. As the Lockheed test director, I coordinated with the TVC and systems engineers to set up our combined subsystems tests.
Lockheed Propulsion Company (Redlands, California) convinced me to transfer in 1967 to set up a test planning group for the AGM-69 SRAM motor. This motor was unique in that it had two propellant grains inside one motor case. Later, we created a major proposal for the Space Shuttle advanced solid motors, but lost.
In 1974, Lockheed Missiles and Space Company requested that I head our field office at Atlantic Research Company, Virginia, where we developed Trident C4 PBCS generators. Back in Sunnyvale in 1977, I led development of D5 PBCS generators, missile equipment section, Navy THAAD RCS and advanced FBM mechanical controls. In 1989, we won the Shuttle solid motor contract.
I retired from Lockheed Martin in 1998. What fun!