Robert F. ‘Bob’ Thompson

Keys to Successful Program Management and Important Decisions in the Space Shuttle Program

The Space Shuttle is the only proven reusable space transportation system and arguably one of the world’s most complex, dynamic and capable machines. Amid constrained and continuously smaller budgets, in the shrinking period after the Apollo moon landings, Bob Thompson led the development of the Shuttle throughout the 1970s and until the vehicle’s first missions in 1981. Bob will provide some of the keys to establishing and managing a space development program, and the key decisions behind establishing the development and flight program of the Space Shuttle.

Bob Thompson served as the manager of the Space Shuttle Program throughout its development, beginning in 1970 and continuing through the Shuttle’s first missions in 1981. Bob had a long career with NASA, starting as a research engineer in the stability and control area with NACA at Langley in 1947. A line officer in the US Navy prior to his career at NASA, throughout most of the 1960s, Bob headed the landing and recovery operations office. Before heading the Shuttle Program, Bob led the Apollo Applications Program, studying the potential for use of Apollo era systems as bases on the moon. After his long NASA career, Bob headed McDonnell Douglas Space Operations during the early years of the Space Station Program.

Bob received his BS in Aeronautical Engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in 1944.

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Design inspired by:
"If the dinosaurs explored space, they would still be alive today." -Dr. Don Pettit

"Since hazards from asteroids and comets must apply to inhabited planets all over the Galaxy, if there are such, intelligent beings everywhere will have to unify their home worlds politically, leave their planets, and move to small nearby worlds around.  Their eventual choice, as ours, is spaceflight or extinction." -Dr. Carl Sagan




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