Irvine, California – Famous NASA scientist and engineer, George Mueller, who made possible the moon landing with the mission better known as Apollo 8, died at the age of 97 because of a congestive heart failure, on October 12 at his home in Irvine, California.

Mueller, born on July 16, 1918, was an electrical engineer at Missouri School of Mines and Purdue University. He completed his Ph.D. in physics while teaching at Ohio State University. Right before NASA hired him, he was the vice president of research and development for Space Technology Laboratories. As the head of NASA’s Office of Manned Spaceflight, with the title of associate administrator, directed and made possible the mission Apollo 8 during the Cold War era. He accomplished what men always considered as impossible: landing a man on the moon.

Acclaimed NASA administrator George Mueller (shown at right) has died at the age of 97. Credit: Engadget

Mueller served in his position during 1963 and 1969. The ambitious mission to the moon launched in 1969 meaning to America a major goal that would become in one of the nation’s most remarkable historic symbols, and the most important achievement of Mueller’s legacy.

During his period serving at NASA, he supervised three spaceflight centers: Marshall Space Flight Center, the Kennedy Space Center which was used in other future programs in addition to Apollo and the Manned Spacecraft Center, today better known as Johnson Space Center. When he supervised these centers he brought them together by introducing a reusable space transportation management system, better known as the “space shuttle”.  The goal of using this system was to approach to the possibility of man landing on the moon by the end of the 60’s.

“We were bringing everything together as rapidly as we could and in a sequence that would get them all together at the same time. So it didn’t make much sense to fly the first stage and then fly it with the second stage, or fly the second stage separately, which was also proposed,” said Mueller in a 1998 NASA interview.

After Apollo 8

Under his leadership, the Apollo 8 crew orbited the moon in 1968 and, the following year, on July 20, 1969, the Apollo 11 team laid claim to a major milestone for humans, the first manned lunar landing. The better known as the “Father of the Space Shuttle,” departed NASA after the Apollo 11 mission. After his six years as NASA’s associate administrator for manned space flight, Mueller served as General Dynamic’s senior vice president and as chairman and chief executive officer for System Development Corp (SDC).

Moreover, in 1995, he returned to take up the post of CEO of Kistler Aerospace and remained active at the reusable launched System Company until 2004. Nowadays this system is shuttered and no longer available.

“It was a good time then to leave and let someone else takes over for the next phase […] from a practical point of view I needed to make some money so I could keep my family going. I’m doing what I set out to do with the space shuttle, and that’s building a fully reusable launch vehicle,” said in an interview when he started the project in 1999.

After Mueller’s long and successful professional trajectory, he spent the rest of his life with his second wife Darla Jean, who he married in 1978. He has two daughters, two stepchildren, 13 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.

Source: The Washington Post