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Ex-NASA manned spaceflight director Holmes passes away

Posted By AIM Newswire On January 16, 2013 @ 9:00 am In AIM Newswire | No Comments

WASHINGTON — In the end of an era, a former director of manned space flight for NASA in the 1960′s, Dyer Brainerd Holmes, has passed away at age 91.

NASA Dyer Holmes [1]His stepson, Pierce Ledbetter, said that Holmes passed away at Baptist Memorial Hospital East in Memphis, Tennessee this past Friday. He had been suffering from complications of pneumonia, Ledbetter mentioned.

Holmes, born in New York in 1921, had a long career in the aeronautics and aerospace industries for over 40 years, joining NASA as the director of manned space flight in 1961 until his resignation in 1963.

During Holmes’ time at NASA, John Glenn became the first U.S. astronaut in orbit on Feb. 20, 1962 on Mercury-Atlas 6. Also, Scott Carpenter rode the Mercury-Atlas 7 into space on May 24, then Walter Schirra on Mercury-Atlas 8 on October 3rd of the same year.

Holmes also helped lay the groundwork for the Apollo program and America’s ambitious venture to the moon. He was featured in a Time Magazine cover story on Aug. 10, 1962, which had the tag line “Reaching for the Moon.”

NASA spokesman Bob Jacobs said Holmes took over the Office of Manned Space Flight for NASA during a critical time for the agency.

“NASA was still relatively young and senior administrators wanted to beef up leadership and management experience at headquarters in Washington,” Jacobs said in an e-mailed statement. “Holmes’ expertise in electrical engineering and management was seen as essential to not only study problems but to offer solutions as NASA began to focus its attention on the Apollo program and the race to the moon.”

After leaving NASA, Holmes joined Raytheon Company as a director. Later, he was named the president and was there when they produced radar and communications systems, along with the famous Sparrow, Patriot and Sidewinder missile systems.

Previous to his service in NASA, Holmes had worked for the companies of Western Electric, Bell Telephone Laboratories and the Radio Corporation of America. While working in RCA, Holmes helped develop the U.S.’s Ballistic Missile Early Warning System.

Holmes received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1943 from Cornell University. As an ensign in the U.S. Naval Reserve, he completed graduate studies in radar at both M.I.T. and Bowdoin College. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree by the University of New Mexico in 1963 and an honorary Doctor of Engineering degree from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 1978.

When he retired in 1986, he lived on and off in his home in Memphis, but preferred to fly his own private plane.

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