Glynn Stephen Lunney was a key figure in the US manned space program from Project Mercury through the coming of the Space Shuttle. He was on duty during historic events such as the Apollo 11 lunar ascent and the pivotal hours of the Apollo 13 crisis. He died in a car crash in Texas in 2009, aged 82.
About Glynn Lunney in brief
Glynn Stephen Lunney is a retired NASA engineer. He was a key figure in the US manned space program from Project Mercury through the coming of the Space Shuttle. Lunney was on duty during historic events such as the Apollo 11 lunar ascent and the pivotal hours of the Apollo 13 crisis. He has received numerous awards for his work, including the National Space Trophy, which he was given by the Rotary Club in 2005. Chris Kraft, NASA’s first flight director, described Lunney as “a true hero of the space age”, saying that he was ‘one of the outstanding contributors to the exploration of space of the last four decades’ Lunney left NASA in 1985 and later became a vice president of the United Space Alliance. He is the eldest son of William Lunney, a welder and former miner who encouraged his son to get an education and to find a job beyond the mines. He grew up in the coal city of Old Forge, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, and graduated from the Scranton Preparatory School in 1953. He went on to study engineering at the University of Detroit, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace engineering. He also worked as a researcher in aerospace dynamics at Lewis Research Center, studying the thermodynamics of vehicles during high-speed reentry. He became a member of Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, where in September 1959 he was the youngest of the forty-one members of NASA’s Space Task Group.
He worked both in the Control Center and at remote sites; during the flight of John Glenn, America’s first orbital space flight, he was the FIDO in Bermuda. In 1964, Glynn and Gene Kranz were selected by Chris Kraft and John Hodge to join his flight directors as deputy directors of the Mission Control Center. In September 1961, the Manned Spacecraft Center was re-organized into Texas, and Lunney moved with it to Houston, where it became the Mission Logic and Computer Hardware section. He later became the head of the Computer and Hardware section of Mission Logic. In 1985, Lunney served as manager of the Shuttle program before leaving NASA. He died in a car crash in Texas in 2009, aged 82. He leaves behind a wife and three children. He previously served as a director of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), a U.S. federal agency founded to promote aeronautical research. He took part in the writing of the first set of mission rules, the guidelines by which both flight controllers and astronauts operated in the Mercury space program. In June 1958, President Eisenhower signed into existence NACA, into which NACA was subsumed. His timing was perfect, for as Lunney later said, “there was no such thing as space flight until the month I got out of college’”. He was the second man to serve as the Flight Dynamics Officer, controlling the trajectory of the spacecraft and planning adjustments to it.