Friday, January 25, 2013

Three Decades of Discovery

We set high marks of achievement and innovation
by Wallace P.

I worked for Martin Marietta Denver for over 30 years, starting in 1956 as a stress engineer. I was involved in structural engineering most of those years. I retired as Director of Mechanical Engineering for the Denver Division in 1987.
Four events in my career had more impact on the company than my day-to-day job. First was my challenge in the 1960s to reinforce a Titan launch vehicle structure to help demonstrate the fire-in-the-hole concept for launching a liquid propellant booster from its underground silo at Vandenberg Air Force Base. Its successful test launch measured the real launch environment for the new Titan II ICBM program.
The second event happened in 1969. I served as project engineer for a study to define a Titan III L launch vehicle growth to a 15-foot diameter core. Our team defined such a booster and built a full-size mock-up to demonstrate its highway transport capability
Another major role in my career was as structures leader of the Space Shuttle external tank proposal to NASA in 1973. With Al Norton as my engineering leader, I led a team of structural engineers to prepare the proposal’s structures section. We won that proposal, which started a major Lockheed Martin activity in Michoud, Louisiana, for over 35 years.
The fourth highlight of my career was my role in a 1976 proposal to the Air Force to design and integrate into the Space Shuttle a new interim upper stage vehicle. Under Peter B. Teets’ direction, I led a team of structural designers to develop a new cradle concept integrating the IUS and its payloads into the Shuttle so that payload loading was minimized. The design would also prevent Shuttle-induced torsional motion from racking the IUS and its payload. Although we lost that proposal to Boeing, I was informed that the Air Force directed Boeing to incorporate our cradle design into their contract.