NASA and I go way back — to their very beginnings, in fact. In 1958, I was graduating from Auburn. I signed up to interview a number of companies and organizations, among them the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). A few months later, I got an offer letter on the NACA letterhead. In their acronym, someone had carefully crossed out the ‘C’, and written an ‘S’ above it. That was my first introduction to NASA. Over time, I’ve spent about 15 years of my career at NASA or NASA-related companies.l
In April, 1959, I reported to the Langley Research Center, starting as a GS-5 Aeronautical Research Engineer (ARE). The personnel department had me slated for a job in one of Langley’s historic wind tunnels. I protested that I was a Physicist, I knew next to nothing about aerodynamics, but a lot about advanced dynamics. I asked if there were any group where I could use that skill.
He said, “Well, there is Clint Brown’s Theoretical Mechanics Division (TMD). But it’s a small and very select group, and he doesn’t normally take new hires.” I said I wanted to interview Clint anyway. Bottom line: I got the job.
When I think about my time at NASA, I naturally tend to think of my work on lunar trajectories for the Apollo program. But the fact is, I also did lots of other stuff, and I’ll be telling you all about them here.