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John Houbolt, NASA engineer who fought for Apollo moon landing method, dies
[i]Were it not for John Houbolt, the United States might never have landed men on the moon.
The engineer, who died on Tuesday (April 15) at the age of 95, successfully sold the country's space program leaders on an alternate flight plan, Lunar Orbit Rendezvous (LOR), which ultimately led to the six Apollo moon landings of the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Houbolt's death was confirmed by a spokesman for NASA on Thursday.
Before Houbolt began championing LOR as the way to go to the moon, NASA's rocket scientists, including Wernher von Braun, envisioned lunar missions of a type now more often associated with early science fiction. In the original plan, a large rocket would fly directly from the Earth to the moon, landing on its tail and blasting off the lunar surface for a direct return to Earth.
"They were going to send a vehicle the size of [a 100-foot (30 meter)] Atlas [rocket] to the moon with absolutely zero help and land it backwards," Houbolt described in a 2008 interview with NASA. "I said, 'It cannot be done.'"[/i]
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