Dr. Glynn S. Lunney

Glynn Lunney photo.
Dr. Glynn S. Lunney

Please see 2005 Press and 2005 Agenda for photos and information from the banquet event.

The 2005 National Space Trophy winner was former Apollo flight director and Shuttle manager, Glynn S. Lunney. Born in Old Forge, Pennsylvania, Lunney graduated from the University of Detroit in 1958 in aeronautical engineering. He went to work at the Lewis (now Glenn) Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio and transferred to Langley in Virginia in 1958. Lunney joined the Space Task Group in 1959, moved to Houston in 1962. He was a flight director for Gemini and Apollo and head of the Flight Director's Office starting in 1968. He received an honorary Doctor of Laws from the University of Scranton in 1971. In 1972, Lunney became manager of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (ASTP), a joint venture between the United States and the Soviet Union (now Russia). Lunney also managed the Apollo Spacecraft Office starting in 1973. ASTP successfully completed its mission in 1975, and Lunney became manager of the Integration and Development Program. Lunney also served at NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC twice: as deputy associate administrator (AA) for Manned Space Flight from January-August of 1977, and then for six months in 1980 as acting AA for Space Transportation Operations. In 1981, Lunney was selected manager of the Shuttle program, and returned to Houston to oversee vehicle systems engineering, design, and integration. Lunney left NASA in 1985 and became President of Rockwell's Satellite Systems Division. After a tour at Rockwell Space Systems Division in Downey, CA, he returned to Houston in 1989 to lead Rockwell's Space Operations Company that became part of United Space Alliance (USA) in 1995. Lunney was Vice President and Program Manager of USA's Space Flight Operations contract until his retirement in 1999.

Profile of Glynn Lunney from the 2005 program book

By Marianne Dyson

The Board of Advisors of the Rotary National Award for Space Achievement (RNASA) Foundation selected Dr. Glynn S. Lunney as the recipient of the 2005 National Space Trophy for his outstanding dedication and remarkable contributions to human space flight and his unparalleled vision that strengthened the foundation for future U.S. space endeavors.

Born in Old Forge, Pennsylvania on November 27, 1936, young Glynn's bedroom ceiling was crowded with model airplanes. "The challenge of flight was calling me early," he said. His interest in airplanes led to a co-op engineering program at the University of Detroit where he spent alternate semesters at the Glenn (then Lewis) Center in Cleveland, Ohio. He graduated in 1958 with a degree in aeronautical engineering and continued research in collaboration with Langley Research Center in Virginia. Within a year, he joined the Space Task Group to work on the Mercury project.

Dr. Chris Kraft Jr. first met Lunney in 1959. "He was a young engineer excelling in orbital mechanics," Kraft recalled. "He was especially adept at the computer and software development for the real-time computation of orbit determination which was a breakthrough at the time."

A Calm Flight Director

Lunney moved to Houston in 1962 and became chief of the Flight Dynamics Branch. He served as a Flight Director for Gemini and Apollo, including Apollos 11 and 13. Lunney said the most satisfying aspect of his work "was to be surrounded by dedicated team members at all levels who were driven by the same goals and supported each other unselfishly. The teamwork, the joy of making each step, and the challenge of the next flight sustained us and amplified the sense of doing something historic for our country."

Kraft said Lunney was a calm and yet demanding flight director. "Lunney understood the underlying requirements of how the process had to be conducted. He also showed his expertise in managing a group of highly talented individuals in order to mold a team of decision makers." His "Black" flight control team's performance during Apollo 13 earned them (as part of the Mission Operations Team) the nation's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom; and Lunney was personally recognized with numerous Stellar Awards including the AIAA Lawrence Sperry Award for outstanding contributions by an engineer under thirty-five years of age.

Lunney was chief of the Flight Directors office from 1968 to 1972. In 1972, Kraft chose Lunney as the project manager for the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (ASTP). "It was a period where very careful and precise information exchange was needed, and Lunney was a master at getting the Russians to do what had to be done," Kraft said. The ASTP flight was successfully completed in 1975, and Lunney feels that its legacy is "alive and well in our current relations with the Russians on Space Station."

Shuttle Manager

After ASTP, Lunney became manager of the Integration and Development Program. He also served at NASA Headquarters twice: in 1977, as deputy associate administrator for Manned Space Flight; and in 1980,* as acting associate administrator for Space Transportation Operations, personally directing a budget in excess of $1.5 billion. During these two tours, he came to understand the important oversight role of headquarters. "In seeing how our wider government (outside NASA) operated, I was at first surprised and then impressed with their ability to focus on the policy and budgetary implications without getting lost in a complicated technical program."

In 1981 after STS-1, Lunney was selected as manager of the Shuttle program for its next sixteen flights, overseeing all vehicle systems engineering, design, and integration. Kraft said, "Although Lunney is well known by his peers, I don't think he has ever received the recognition for the tremendous accomplishments he made while a member of the NASA organization. He did every job he was given with a quiet confidence and was highly respected for his management skills by those who worked for him."

Lunney left NASA in 1985 and became President, Rockwell Satellite Systems Division, building the Block II Global Positioning Satellite. After a tour at Rockwell Space Systems Division in Downey, CA*, he returned to Houston in 1989 to lead Rockwell Space Operations Company and Houston Operations. The Space Operations Company then became part of United Space Alliance (USA) in 1995. He described the start-up of the shuttle contract as catching a fast-moving train. "We had consolidated multiple previous shuttle contracts into a new company," he explained. "USA had to step up to manage all the related program activities without any slowdown in the flight rate or supporting developments. This was the train that the people of USA had to catch, board and manage successfully," and he added, "they did." Lunney was Vice President and Program Manager of USA's Space Flight Operations contract until his retirement in 1999.

*Sentence modified from original print version

Greatest Blessing

In retirement, Dr. Lunney enjoys advising two small start-up companies and playing golf. "I have come to realize that golf will not be mastered, but will continue to be humbling," he said. What he calls his "greatest blessing" is his family, especially his wife Marilyn, their four children, and a dozen grandchildren. Marilyn is a Special Judge in Harris County; daughter Jenny Brayley runs a veterinary practice in Houston; son Glynn Jr. is a law professor at Tulane; son Shawn is an executive at Cyberonics; and, following in his father's footsteps, son Bryan is a Flight Director.

As our Stellar Awards nominees face the challenges of going to the Moon and Mars, Dr. Lunney advises them "to be open and attentive to new, or even radical sounding ideas or concepts. It is difficult to be a champion against conventional wisdom, but there are numerous program examples of concepts which move from out-of-favor to becoming the baseline."

Last year's winner, Neil Armstrong said, "Glynn Lunney was a skillful and balanced leader in pivotal roles. He is a superb choice as the 2005 recipient of the RNASA National Space Trophy." Congratulations, Dr. Lunney.

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