An engineer who was concerned from the beginning in NASA’s efforts to launch the primary astronauts into house and who later led Mission Management by way of a few of its most difficult and triumphant hours, flight director Glynn S. Lunney has died on the age of 84.
Lunney’s demise on Friday (March 19) was confirmed by NASA. A household good friend mentioned that Lunney died after an extended sickness.
“Glynn was the proper particular person for the proper time in historical past,” Mark Geyer, director of NASA’s Johnson House Middle in Houston, said in a statement. “His distinctive management and remarkably fast mind had been vital to the success of among the most iconic accomplishments in human spaceflight.”
“Whereas he was one of the well-known NASA alumni, he was additionally one of the humble folks I’ve ever labored with. He was very supportive of the NASA workforce and was so gracious in the way in which he shared his knowledge with us,” mentioned Geyer.
Lunney was working for the Nationwide Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) as a co-op pupil in 1958, when he was recruited by the newly fashioned NASA on the age of 22. The youngest member of the House Job Group, he and his colleagues at Langley Analysis Middle in Hampton, Virginia, had been charged with determining how one can ship the primary astronauts into house.
Initially, Lunney was assigned to develop the simulated missions that had been used to coach different flight controllers. His place for the early Project Mercury flights was at a distant monitoring station.
“I used to be on the Bermuda station,” he mentioned in a 1999 NASA oral history interview. “Bermuda is 800 miles [1,300 km] or so out within the ocean away from Florida, the place we launched [the missions], and the place the place the automobile went into orbit was about midway in between.”
“Since this was on the very horizon from the Cape [Canaveral, Florida] and going out of sight, there was some query about how properly we may know whether or not the automobile was in orbit or not. So I began off as a flight dynamics officer on the management heart in Bermuda, and I used to be there for a lot of the flights — each unmanned and manned.”
After the 1962 launch of John Glenn on the primary U.S. crewed mission to orbit Earth, Lunney labored the ultimate three unique astronaut missions from the Mercury Management Middle in Florida, earlier than changing into chief of the flight dynamics department.
“We had a beautiful assortment of characters,” Lunney mentioned. “We referred to as the entrance row the ‘trench.’ I do not know who got here up with that early on or what it even got here from, however we referred to as the entrance row the ‘trench,’ and the three console operators that had been concerned in that noticed themselves as a workforce that was controlling all the trajectory features, orbital mechanics features, of the flight.”
In 1964, because the Gemini program was getting underway, Lunney was chosen to turn into a flight director. One of many first 4 folks to steer Mission Management, Lunney led the “Black workforce.” (Every flight director selected a coloration: Chris Kraft, John Hodge and Gene Kranz selected purple, blue and white, respectively.) After overseeing Apollo check flights, Lunney led his first shifts within the Mission Operations Control Room within the Mission Management Middle at NASA’s Manned Spacecraft Middle (right now, Johnson House Middle) for the Gemini 9 mission in 1966.
“So I got here again, and several other of us … had been the first gamers, major flight director workforce that operated on the final variety of Gemini spacecraft when our senior management, represented by [Kraft], went over to start out preparing for Apollo,” Lunney mentioned. “The issues that we obtained to do in Gemini actually ready the whole operations workforce — the folks within the management heart, the astronauts after which the engineering workforce that supported that — that complete workforce of individuals got here collectively doing the Gemini program and we did virtually every little thing you may do in Earth orbit.”
As NASA’s focus turned to the moon, “Black Flight” led shifts for the primary Apollo mission, Apollo 7; the primary mission to orbit the moon, Apollo eight (and, at across the similar time, Lunney was named chief of the flight director’s workplace); the costume rehearsal for the primary lunar touchdown, Apollo 10; after which the historic first touchdown, Apollo 11, throughout which he oversaw the ascent from the moon and rendezvous with the command module in lunar orbit.
“Nice time. I used to be — how previous was I? I used to be 32, I assume, on the time we landed on the moon. I might been doing this for eight years or so earlier than that point, however — sure, I used to be type of younger on the time. We had been all fired up, in fact, the entire time, however occasions like that simply supercharged that sense of power and pleasure about it. It was actually highly effective. Nice stuff,” he mentioned.
It was his subsequent mission as flight director, although, that Lunney referred to as the perfect of his profession.
Lunney and his workforce had been nearly to return on console for the night shift on April 13, 1970, when the Apollo 13 crew radioed, “Houston, we have had an issue.”
“For me, I felt that the Black Staff shift instantly after the explosion and for the subsequent 14 hours was the perfect piece of operations work I ever did or may hope to do,” Lunney mentioned in his oral historical past. “It posed a steady demand for the perfect choices usually with out laborious information and totally on the idea of judgment, within the face of probably the most extreme in-flight emergency confronted so far in manned spaceflight.”
“We constructed a quarter-million mile house freeway, paved by one resolution, one alternative, and one innovation at a time — repeated consistently over virtually 4 days to deliver the crew safely residence. This house freeway guided the crippled ship again to planet Earth, the place folks from all continents had been bonded in help of those three explorers-in-peril,” he mentioned. “It was an inspiring and emotional feeling, reminding us as soon as once more of our frequent humanity. I’ve at all times been so very proud to have been a part of this Apollo 13 workforce, delivering our greatest when it was actually wanted.”
Lunney led his last shifts as a flight director throughout the Apollo 14 and Apollo 15 missions, earlier than shifting into administration, serving because the technical assistant for Apollo to the director of flight operations after which changing into the technical director for the U.S. aspect of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project that was collectively flown with the Soviet Union in 1975.
Then, after heading up payload integration for the house shuttle, Lunney reported to NASA Headquarters in Washington, to function deputy affiliate administrator for spaceflight and performing affiliate administrator for house transportation operations. Lunney then returned to Houston to turn into shuttle program supervisor earlier than retiring from NASA in 1985.
Glynn Stephen Lunney was born in Previous Forge, Pennsylvania, on Nov. 27, 1936. He graduated with a bachelor’s diploma in aeronautical engineering from the College of Detroit in 1958, when he noticed his first drawing of what would turn into the Mercury capsule, igniting his want to hitch NASA.
After his 27 years on the house company, Lunney went to work for Rockwell, overseeing the division of the corporate constructing World Positioning System (GPS) satellites. He then labored on the house station earlier than returning to the shuttle, changing into vice chairman and program supervisor for United House Alliance (USA), an organization equally owned by Rockwell (later, Boeing) and Lockheed Martin, that supported NASA’s spaceflight operations contract.
For his service to the U.S. house program, Lunney was honored with the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, NASA Distinctive Service Medal and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom as a member of the Apollo 13 mission management workforce. In 2005, Lunney was bestowed the Nationwide House Trophy from the Rotary Nationwide Award for House Achievement Basis.
Lunney is a co-author of the 2011 guide, “From the Trench of Mission Management to the Craters of the Moon,” which he wrote along with his fellow members of the Gemini and Apollo-era flight dynamics department.
Lunney was portrayed on display screen by actor Marc McClure within the 1995 function movie “Apollo 13” and by actor Jackson Tempo within the Nationwide Geographic sequence “The Proper Stuff” for Disney+. Lunney appeared as himself within the 2017 feature-length documentary, “Mission Management: The Unsung Heroes of Apollo.”
Lunney is survived by his spouse of 61 years, Marilyn Kurtz, and their 4 youngsters, Jennifer; Glynn, Jr., Shawn and Bryan. The latter, Bryan, is NASA’s first second-generation flight director.