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Posted by on Nov 5, 2010 in At TMV | 0 comments

John Gavin, a key leader of the lunar module program for the Apollo missions, dies

Although it appears he had a full, long life, it is still sad when one of the people who helped us land on the moon passes.

John G. Gavin Jr., who rode herd over the immensely complex design, construction and testing of the first vehicle to visit the moon— a task that included anticipating 400 different landing surfaces, from ice to boulders to dust to potholes — died on Saturday in Amherst, Mass. He was 90.

As director of the lunar module program for the Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation, Mr. Gavin had to make sure that the craft — a combination two-stage rocket and two-man spacecraft weighing 32,000 pounds — would land gently on the moon’s surface, then take off again on its own power to rejoin a larger spacecraft in lunar orbit.

The odd, bulbous module with spindly legs was called the world’s first true spacecraft because it could operate only in outer space.

Cross-posted to Random Fate.