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Max Faget

AKA Maxime Allen Faget

Born: 26-Aug-1921
Birthplace: Stann Creek, Belize
Died: 9-Oct-2004
Location of death: Houston, TX
Cause of death: Cancer - Pancreatic
Remains: Buried, Mt. Olivet Catholic Cemetery, Dickinson, TX

Gender: Male
Religion: Roman Catholic
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Scientist

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Designer of NASA spacecraft

Military service: US Navy (submarine officer, 1943-46)

Max Faget (pronounced fah-ZHAY) was hired by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, forerunner of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), in 1946. He did some of the earliest work on what became the Mercury spacecraft, and designed the Mercury capsule's distinctive tapered shape with a protective heat shield over its blunted nose to protect it from the almost unimaginable heat of re-entry. In addition to the Mercury capsule, he was chief designer of the Apollo command and service modules and space shuttle orbiter, and was also involved in the teams that designed the Gemini craft, the X-l5 experimental supersonic plane, and the Polaris missile. He argued unsuccessfully for using one-piece solid-rocket boosters on the space shuttle, which some insiders have suggested might have prevented the Challenger disaster. After his retirement from NASA he founded Space Industries, Inc., a company that was eventually absorbed into General Dynamics.

As a boy Faget subscribed to Astounding Science Fiction, and in college he competed in both wrestling and gymnastics. Short and shy except when he was speaking about technical matters, he was known at NASA for occasionally leaping over chairs and holding informal meetings while standing on his head, "to improve blood circulation in my brain," while keys and coins tumbled from his pockets. His father, Dr Guy Faget, was a physician who, in 1941, developed sulfone into the first effective treatment for leprosy.

Father: Guy Faget (physician)
Brother: Frank Faget (b. 1919, d. 1985)
Sister: Elsie Faget Tomkins (lab technician, b. 1924, d. 1991)
Brother: Guy Faget, Jr. (b. 1929, d. 2004)
Wife: Nancy Carastro Faget (d. 1994, four children)
Daughter: Ann Lee Faget
Daughter: Carol Lee Faget
Son: Guy Faget (physician)
Daughter: Nanette Faget Cerna (NASA engineer)

    High School: George Washington High School, San Francisco, CA (1939)
    University: City College of San Francisco (attended)
    University: BS Mechanical Engineering, Louisiana State University (1943)

    National Inventors Hall of Fame 2003
    ASME Medal 1975
    NASA Johnson Space Center:(Director of Engineering, 1962-81)
    NASA Space Task Group:(1958-62)
    National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics Langley Research Center (1946-58)
    American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
    Omicron Delta Kappa Honor Society
    Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society
    Cajun Ancestry

Author of books:
Manned Spacecraft: Engineering Design and Operation (1964, with Paul E. Purser and Norman F. Smith)
Technologies of Manned Space Systems (1965, with Aleck C. Bond)
Manned Space Flight (1965)


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