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Robert R. Gilruth

From Academic Kids

Robert Rowe Gilruth (October 18, 1913-August 17, 2000) was an American aviation and space pioneer.

In the beginning of his career he was involved with early research into supersonic flight and rocket-powered aircraft and then with the manned space program, including the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo projects. He worked for the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics from 1937 to 1958 and its successor agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), until retirement in 1973.

Gilruth was born in Nashwauk, Minnesota. He attended and completed high school in Duluth, Minnesota. Gilruth received a bachelor's degree in aeronautical engineering at the University of Minnesota, and received his master's degree in 1936.

When NASA was created, Gilruth became head of the Space Task Group, tasked with putting a man in space before the Soviet Union. When that didn't happen, Giluruth suggested to President John F. Kennedy that the United States should announce a bigger goal, such as going to the Moon. Soon the Apollo program was born, and Gilruth was made head of the NASA center which ran it, the new Manned Spacecraft Center (now the Johnson Space Center).

He oversaw a total of 25 manned spaceflights, from Mercury 3 to Apollo 15.

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