Even as lots of our interviewees had “front administrative center” jobs in the space software—pilots, astronauts, flight controllers—some of the most enjoyable interview bits got here from the pure engineers. That consists of individuals like Norman Chaffee, who began his profession at NASA in Might also of 1962 and who, for the period of the direction of that profession, labored on the Gemini and Apollo packages. Chaffee didn’t fly the spacecraft—he helped make them.
Principally, Chaffee became a propulsion engineer. He helped make the response regulate thrusters on the Gemini pill a reality. Those are the little thrusters, typically fueled via either hypergolic propellants or cold gas, which can be used for the period of the mission to alternate the spacecraft’s approach in roll, pitch, and yaw. After Gemini, Chaffee labored on thruster design for the Apollo command module and then, finally, on the reaction regulate thrusters for the Grumman-manufactured Lunar Module. (Chaffee’s NASA oral background web page has some astonishing stories in it for readers who want to comprehend extra).
We wished to talk over with Norm due to the fact, as a propulsion engineer, he become with regards to a sizable amount of technical selection-making for the period of the program, and he surely delivered. Past being an astute engineer, he is a proficient observer—and the perception he gave us for our program was the two widespread and priceless.
Record picture by NASA---