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  NACA and NASA designer Caldwell Johnson

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Author Topic:   NACA and NASA designer Caldwell Johnson
SpaceCat
Member

Posts: 151
From: Florida, US
Registered: May 2006

posted 05-17-2007 09:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceCat     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Now at age 88, Caldwell Johnson is certainly one of the grand old men and unsung heroes of America's space program. His valued contributions as right-hand man to Max Faget have been detailed in various NASA history publications, in the fine Murray and Cox Apollo book, and his extensive interviews on the JSC Oral History site.

Strangely enough, the only photograph I've ever seen of him is in the Murray and Cox book — seated at his Langley drafting table when he was probably no more than 25 years old. I've searched the JSC digital image collection, the NASA 'GRIN' collection, Google...

I'm beginning to think Mr. Johnson was just too busy to have his picture taken after the age of 25!

Wondering if any of our collectors and historians here might have a photo of Caldwell Johnson to share?

stsmithva
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Posts: 1319
From: Centreville, VA, USA
Registered: Feb 2007

posted 05-19-2007 07:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for stsmithva   Click Here to Email stsmithva     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I like doing a little online research, so here is what I just found. You've probably seen it all already, but just in case...

I think your best bet would be to get a copy of The Partnership: A History of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Program (SP-4209). Online excerpts here seem to indicate that there are photos taken of him during the Soviets' visit to Houston.

Does this site show the Johnson you are looking for? Even if so, it is a very old photo, decades before what you are looking for.

He isn't one of these people shown working on Skylab, is he?

Naraht
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Posts: 232
From: Oxford, UK
Registered: Mar 2006

posted 05-19-2007 07:33 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Naraht   Click Here to Email Naraht     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Further to "The Partnership," there are two rather poor pictures of Johnson in the online edition, both in this section.

The photos are credited to the Soviet Academy of Sciences.

Further than that, I can't help you. Have you tried the NASA history office?

mzieg
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Posts: 72
From: Seneca, PA USA
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 05-19-2007 07:57 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for mzieg   Click Here to Email mzieg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Caldwell Johnson and Max Faget are interviewed in the Discovery Channel video "One Giant Leap" released back in the 1990's.

For those not familiar with the video, it concentrates primarily on Apollo 8 and 11. Johnson and Faget appear right after the end of the Apollo 8 segment, as the opening part of the Apollo 11 segment. They talk about the nature of the lunar surface and how that affected the design of the lunar module. Their part of the video runs about 2 minutes.

SpaceCat
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Posts: 151
From: Florida, US
Registered: May 2006

posted 05-19-2007 10:59 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceCat     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you all!

"The Partnership" has been on my list of things to read, so this bumps it closer to the top, and I'll have to track down that Discovery Channel piece. Steve, that old model airplane page is a real find!

Interesting that Johnson's two greatest talents — model building and drafting — have largely been taken over by CAD systems today.

Naraht
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Posts: 232
From: Oxford, UK
Registered: Mar 2006

posted 05-20-2007 01:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Naraht   Click Here to Email Naraht     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
"The Partnership" is a great read whether or not you're looking for pictures of Caldwell Johnson. It details a really under-appreciated chapter in NASA history, and it is especially interesting because its authors were there conducting interviews and collecting historical material while the program was ongoing.

kr4mula
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Posts: 599
From: Cinci, OH
Registered: Mar 2006

posted 05-21-2007 11:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for kr4mula   Click Here to Email kr4mula     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by SpaceCat:
Interesting that Johnson's two greatest talents — model building and drafting — have largely been taken over by CAD systems today.
Johnson unfortunately remains one of the true unsung heroes of the space program. His technical acumen and drawing skills translated Faget's ideas into workable machines. I think Murry and Cox do a pretty good job of laying that out.

While doing research and interviews for the JSC Oral History Project, I was surprised by how many of the Mercury generation of engineers were avid and first-rate model airplane builders. Many continue the hobby (more an avocation, really) today. I think the experience says something about the role of hands-on experience in designing and building real hardware with your hands translating into success as an engineer, particularly at that time.

Many of you probably know the story about John Kiker, the recently deceased parachute/landing systems engineer, who sold the case for a shuttle carrier aircraft by building a working model of it and the shuttle (including separation!) for demonstration. I remember seeing NASA photos of it flying out at JSC in the early 1970s.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 05-28-2013 10:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I received word this evening that Caldwell Johnson has passed away.

GACspaceguy
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Posts: 1394
From: Guyton, GA
Registered: Jan 2006

posted 05-29-2013 04:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for GACspaceguy   Click Here to Email GACspaceguy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
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GoforEVA
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Posts: 8
From: Parkdale Victoria 3195
Registered: May 2013

posted 05-29-2013 06:51 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for GoforEVA   Click Here to Email GoforEVA     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
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astroborg
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From: Woodbridge, VA, USA
Registered: Nov 2000

posted 05-29-2013 08:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for astroborg   Click Here to Email astroborg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
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space1
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Posts: 506
From: Danville, Ohio, USA
Registered: Dec 2002

posted 05-29-2013 08:38 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for space1   Click Here to Email space1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
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kr4mula
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Posts: 599
From: Cinci, OH
Registered: Mar 2006

posted 05-29-2013 11:36 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for kr4mula   Click Here to Email kr4mula     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
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mach3valkyrie
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Posts: 183
From: Albany, Oregon USA
Registered: Jul 2006

posted 05-29-2013 12:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mach3valkyrie   Click Here to Email mach3valkyrie     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
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Jeff
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Posts: 211
From: Fayetteville, NC, USA
Registered: May 2009

posted 05-29-2013 01:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jeff   Click Here to Email Jeff     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
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randy
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Posts: 1287
From: West Jordan, Utah USA
Registered: Dec 1999

posted 05-29-2013 01:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for randy   Click Here to Email randy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
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minipci
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From: London, UK
Registered: Jul 2009

posted 05-29-2013 04:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for minipci     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
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hlbjr
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Posts: 321
From: Delray Beach Florida USA
Registered: Mar 2006

posted 05-29-2013 08:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for hlbjr   Click Here to Email hlbjr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Another giant of space history moves on...

capoetc
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Posts: 1705
From: Newnan GA (USA)
Registered: Aug 2005

posted 05-29-2013 09:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for capoetc   Click Here to Email capoetc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
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Joel Katzowitz
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Posts: 326
From: Marietta GA USA
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posted 05-30-2013 02:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Joel Katzowitz   Click Here to Email Joel Katzowitz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
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Kite
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Posts: 231
From: Northampton UK
Registered: Nov 2009

posted 05-30-2013 04:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kite     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
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Sad to read of the passing of such a creative pioneer of the American space initiative. The Murray and Cox 'Apollo' book gives plenty of reference to his invaluable work.

dss65
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Posts: 821
From: Sandpoint, ID, USA
Registered: Mar 2003

posted 05-30-2013 09:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dss65   Click Here to Email dss65     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
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jasonelam
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Posts: 443
From: Monticello, KY USA
Registered: Mar 2007

posted 06-01-2013 08:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for jasonelam   Click Here to Email jasonelam     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
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Jay Chladek
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Posts: 2211
From: Bellevue, NE, USA
Registered: Aug 2007

posted 06-01-2013 11:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Johnson's work in a sense is still used to this day. He helped to come up with the concept for the androgynous docking system and a variation of it was selected for ASTP. Its design became the APAS-75 docking system, which led to the APAS-89 docking system used for shuttle/Mir missions and the ISS. The Pressurized Mating Adaptors on the ISS use a variation of the docking collar as well.

He was a great designer and while he is no longer with us, I think the legacy of his designs will still be around for some time to come.

astro-nut
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Posts: 512
From: washington, Illinois USA
Registered: Jan 2006

posted 06-15-2013 06:55 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for astro-nut   Click Here to Email astro-nut     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
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East-Frisian
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Posts: 398
From: Germany
Registered: Apr 2005

posted 06-15-2013 10:18 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for East-Frisian     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
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