Apollo Moon Missions: The Unsung Heroes

By Billy Watkins | Go to book overview

12 RODNEY ROSE
Mission Planner

Planning a space mission during the hectic days of Apollo was like having a few thousand world-renowned chefs in the same kitchen. They all packed an ego and their own ideas about how things should be done, and they weren't shy about expressing them.

Rodney Rose, a native of Huntington, England who had been on NASA's wish list since his days of designing aircraft for the British government, specialized in the capsule's ejection system and parachutes during the Gemini program. He heard the constant bickering back and forth among contractors, engineers, scientists, and medical experts. They argued over everything from electronic configurations to what, and how often, astronauts should eat in space. Rose pled his cases with the best of them.

In 1964, as Gemini was about to begin and Apollo loomed on the far horizon, he approached Chris Kraft, director of Flight Operations. “I told him we needed to get everyone on the same sheet of music, as if we were playing a concert,” Rose says, his British accent holding strong after forty-six years in Texas. “Everyone was going off every which way, and Chris and I were pretty much on the same wavelength. He put me in charge of these “Flight Operations Panel” meetings and said, 'Do the job and I'll back you.' Pretty soon people found out that's exactly how it was; they didn't buck me too much because they knew Chris would come down on them.”

Rose's formal title became Technical Assistant, Assistant Director of Flight Operations. Basically, he was a mission planner who made sure flights maximized every precious second in space without overloading

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