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Robert R. Gilruth

AKA Robert Rowe Gilruth

Born: 18-Oct-1913
Birthplace: Nashwauk, MN
Died: 17-Aug-2000
Location of death: Charlottesville, VA
Cause of death: unspecified

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Engineer

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: NASA scientist

Robert R. Gilruth's boyhood hobby was designing and building rubber-band powered toy airplanes, and at the University of Minnesota he studied under Jean Piccard. He worked twenty years at NASA's predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, where he supervised free-flight experiments with high speed rocket-powered models at transonic and supersonic speeds, and conducted research on optimum wing design. He jumped to NASA when it was formed in 1958, and among NASA insiders he was sometimes called "godfather to the astronauts". Gilruth organized NASA's space task group, which evolved into Project Mercury and, with Gilruth in charge, launched Alan Shepard into space as America's first astronaut in 1961. Gilruth was the first director of NASA's Manned Spacecraft Center, from 1962-72, overseeing the Gemini and Apollo missions culminating in Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin's walk on the moon in 1969. His last work at NASA was early planning for the Apollo-Soyuz mission of July 1975. An amateur sailor, he designed and built his own boat, and in retirement he invented a sailing hydrofoil system for high-speed surface-skimming.

Father: Henry Augustus Gilruth (physics teacher, b. 31-Mar-1881, d. 28-May-1969)
Mother: Francis Marion Rowe Gilruth (math teacher, b. 14-Jan-1885, m. 24-Aug-1909, d. 3-May-1973)
Sister: Jean Marian Gilruth McDonald (b. 5-Feb-1911, d. 5-Jul-1943)
Wife: Jean Barnhill Gilruth (aviator, b. 24-Oct-1912, d. 10-Dec-1972)
Daughter: Barbara Jean Gilruth Wyatt (d. 2007)
Wife: Jo Grumman Gilruth

    High School: Duluth Central High School, Duluth, MN (1931)
    University: BS Aeronautical Engineering, University of Minnesota (1935)
    University: MS Aeronautical Engineering, University of Minnesota (1936)

    ASME Medal 1970
    National Aviation Hall of Fame 1994
    American Astronomical Society
    American Society of Mechanical Engineers
    National Academy of Engineering
    National Academy of Sciences
    Royal Astronomical Society
    NASA Space Task Group:(1958-73)
    National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (1937-58)


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