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  Atlas engineer Thomas O'Malley (1915-2009)

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Author Topic:   Atlas engineer Thomas O'Malley (1915-2009)
Robert Pearlman
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posted 11-08-2009 12:49 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Florida Today: Thomas J. O'Malley, dead at 94, sent Glenn into space
Legendary space industry engineer Thomas J. O'Malley, 94, died Friday evening, shortly after a phone call from Mercury astronaut and former U.S. Sen. John Glenn, whom O'Malley launched into space in 1962 by pushing a button.

O'Malley had displayed the button in the den of his Cocoa Beach home.

Daughter Kathleen O'Malley said the conversation between Glenn and her father on Friday was brief, but she related hearing O'Malley say, "Hello, John Glenn," to the former astronaut.

He was called to the human spaceflight program in 1961, while working for the Convair division of General Dynamics, where he was a test engineer for the Atlas intercontinental ballistic missile, according to family historian Cornelia Dean, O'Malley's niece. The Atlas missile had experienced a series of launch pad explosions...


Credit: NASA
Thomas J. O'Malley, left, and John Glenn sit in front of Friendship 7

randy
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KSCartist
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Delta7
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Henk Boshuijer
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GACspaceguy
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Jeff
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LCDR Scott Schneeweis
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hlbjr
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bcrussell
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posted 11-08-2009 08:34 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for bcrussell   Click Here to Email bcrussell     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
"Good Lord ride all the way"

John Charles
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413 is in
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Lou Chinal
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Rick Mulheirn
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bruce
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ejectr
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cddfspace
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Lunar rock nut
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Scott
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capoetc
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ilbasso
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posted 11-09-2009 05:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ilbasso   Click Here to Email ilbasso     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
We heard the story that when O'Malley was Director of Launch Operations for Mercury at Pad 14, he was frequently unable to find the pad entrance road in the early pre-dawn hours, as there were no street lights along Missile Row. A street light was erected at the Pad 14 entrance, and was given a plaque identifying it as "O'Malley's Guiding Light." We saw it today on the "Cape Canaveral Then and Now" tour.

E2M Lem Man
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posted 11-09-2009 05:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for E2M Lem Man     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
We will miss you, Terrible Tommy. Your friends old at NAA-Rockwell Downey.

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J M Busby
Aerospace Legacy Foundation

Jay Chladek
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posted 11-09-2009 10:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have a DVD from Lockheed Martin about the launch of the last stage and a half Atlas and it included a retrospective video about the original Atlas design. Tom O'Malley was one of the subjects interviewed as he was involved in the early testing of the Atlas ICBM for Convair before he worked in the Mercury program. In those days, one had to be tough when it came to testing a brand new rocket design.

Guenter Wendt's book "The Unbroken Chain" did provide some tidbits on O'Malley as well since apparently the pair didn't get along too well (sounds almost like a weird marriage in retrospect given their jobs). But the two did have respect for one another based on what Guenter told me when I met him in 2004. Reading about the KSC careers of both Tom and Guenter, they practically parallel one another as both were brought back to work for North American after Apollo 1 and both stayed at KSC through the 1980s before retiring (although Guenter went to California for a few years when OV-101 Enterprise was being built).

It just goes to show that even though certain individuals might not have gotten along perfectly. In the job of putting people into space, they still got the job done and we enjoy the fruits of those labors today. Thanks for your service Tom!

NavySpaceFan
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historyinminiature
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AstroAutos
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rjb1elec
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astro-nut
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Dave Clow
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Joe Frasketi
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Spoon
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skye12
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nicholas
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