John Houbolt died this week, click HERE for the announcement.  I suspect many of you, if not all, will ask, "Who was he?"
I'm not surprised at the question, but he is an extremely important part of United States Space Flight History.  I had the honor of knowing the man because he was on my performance review committee.

John Houbolt was the engineer who came up with the idea of having the spacecraft going to the moon to be a 3-part assembly, a Command Module, a Service Module, and a Lunar Module.  The Command Module was the portion we think of which, on return from the moon, reentered the Earth's atmosphere and splashed down in the ocean.  The Service Module was the portion that provided the propellant and rockets for leaving Earth orbit, trajectory to the Moon, insertion into Lunar Orbit, return to Earth, and reinsertion into Earth orbit.  The Lunar Module was the portion that separated from the other two modules, after Lunar orbit was established, and landed on the Moon's surface.  Actually it consisted of two parts, one which acted as a launch pad and left on the lunar surface when the 2 astronauts rejoined the Command and Service Modules.  (Originally the Lunar Module was called the Lunar Excursion Module, LEM.  But since it did not move once landing the name was shortened.  When I arrived at NASA as a fresh-hired, junior engineer/scientist it was stilled called the LEM, and that is how I will always remember it.

I came to know Dr. Houbolt (John as he was called by his equals) because when I arrived at Langley Research Center, LaRC, I was assigned to the Guidance and Control Branch
of the Space Mechanics Division, where I had worked the prior Summer as a Summer Student.  G&C was responsible for the full-size simulation of the Gemini and Apollo Capsule maneuvering in space called the Rendezvous and Docking Simulator, click HERE.  This was the group that studied and developed the core components, rendezvous and docking, of  John Houbolt's idea into reality.  For some of the detail, click HERE.  (SMD and G&C was led by some of the best of NASA: Hewitt Phillips, Art Vogeley, Max Kurbjun, Lindsay Lina, and Roy Brissenden.)

John Hoibolt was a member of the committee of senior engineers/scientists who followed, reviewed, and graded my performance for the first year I was at LaRC, June, 1963- June, 1964.  As a junior engineer I admired, enjoyed, and clicked my heels, as I did for all the other men listed above.  He gave me a high recommendation at the end of that year.  I have always hoped I earned it, then and in the remainder of the years I worked in NASA 


I have much interest to find information about NASA at every weekend but this weekend info is not good for me because i personally like Mr.john houbolt that is dead now. I thanks to the site owner for providing this nice info with us. Thanks for sharing this news.

09/25/2016 6:41am

This is sad news for the lovers of him that they lose their beloved one. This is the rule of the nature but this is only we who are forgetting that with the buddy of the time and activity. We should have to keeping it remembered.

10/25/2016 5:37am

It is a very sad news of the death of Mr. John Houbolt. He was such an inspiration for all the astronauts of the world. They must be very sad to hear this news. We all admire his work in the field of space study.

10/27/2016 9:55am

The first time I came here, less than 10 seconds the display is perfectly open, and the loading is completed less than 20 seconds and to open the article only took about 7 seconds. So I think this is very fast! Incredible! Trying to maintain!


It's so sad he's gone. He was a great person indeed. Tell me more about him, please.

12/30/2016 11:06pm

Pretty cool post. It’s really very nice and useful post. Thanks for sharing this with us! It’s my first visit.

01/03/2017 8:29pm

I have been meaning to write something like this on my website and you have given me an idea. Cheers.

01/07/2017 8:05am

I am very much overwhelmed by your thoughts for this particular story. A more deeper and staged knowledge would be good for me.

01/10/2017 6:52am

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02/13/2017 10:17am

The death of John Houbolt is a big loss for everyone of us. He played a great role in the growth of education.


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