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Author Topic:   Boeing awarded by IEEE for Mercury spacecraft
Robert Pearlman

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

posted 03-02-2011 01:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Boeing Defense, Space & Security release (Feb. 25, 2011)
Boeing Recognized for Mercury Spacecraft by Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers

Boeing received an IEEE Milestone award in Electrical Engineering and Computing from the Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers in recognition of the company's work on the Mercury spacecraft. IEEE is the world's largest technical professional association.

Credit: Boeing

Above: This 1960 photo shows the "clean room" for Mercury spacecraft production at McDonnell Douglas Aircraft in St. Louis.

The Mercury spacecraft, America's first manned space vehicle, was designed, developed and built by McDonnell Douglas Aircraft (a Boeing heritage company) in St. Louis. A total of 20 Mercury spacecraft were delivered to NASA, six of which carried astronauts into space between 1961 and 1963. John Glenn piloted Friendship 7 in the first U.S. human orbital flight on Feb. 20, 1962.

"We are truly honored to receive this recognition and pay tribute to the engineers who worked on the Mercury spacecraft," said Dennis Muilenburg, president and CEO, Boeing Defense, Space & Security. "They helped set a strong foundation on which America's space program continues to grow and thrive. Boeing and our heritage companies have supported human space exploration from the beginning, and our talented, innovative engineers and other employees will continue to build upon this legacy for many years to come."

The award cites electrical and electronic systems invented by McDonnell Douglas Aircraft engineers that made the Mercury flights and future space flights possible. Among the engineers' key contributions were navigation and control instruments, autopilot, rate stabilization and control, and fly-by-wire systems.

The IEEE Milestones in Electrical Engineering and Computing program honors significant technical achievements that occurred at least 25 years ago in technology areas associated with IEEE. To date, more than 100 Milestones have been approved and dedicated around the world. This award also recognizes technological innovation and excellence for the benefit of humanity.

Home to Boeing Defense, Space & Security headquarters, the Boeing St. Louis site employs approximately 15,600 employees and is Missouri's largest manufacturer and second-largest employer. Key products manufactured at the site include F/A- 18E/Fs, F-15s, C-17s and weapons.

A unit of The Boeing Company, Boeing Defense, Space & Security is one of the world's largest defense, space and security businesses specializing in innovative and capabilities-driven customer solutions, and the world's largest and most versatile manufacturer of military aircraft. Headquartered in St. Louis, Boeing Defense, Space & Security is a $32 billion business with 66,000 employees worldwide. Follow us on Twitter: @BoeingDefense.

Robert Pearlman

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

posted 03-30-2011 11:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Boeing feature story
Mercury Rising

Their contributions to Project Mercury in the early days of the space race went largely unrecognized, as their vision and accomplishments were overshadowed by program's historic moments.

But on Feb. 25, the McDonnell Aircraft team of retired engineers and technicians who designed and built the Mercury spacecraft that carried Americans into space for the first time, were finally honored in St. Louis.

The Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the world's largest professional association for technology advancement, recognized Boeing with an IEEE Milestone award in electrical engineering and computing for the Mercury spacecraft.

Moshe Kam, IEEE president, told an audience largely made up of retired Project Mercury engineers that time had not forgotten their contributions.

"The often nameless, the often somewhat forgotten technicians, engineers, physicists, mathematicians and other thinkers and doers from whose imaginations and minds enhance this spectacular achievement - we came today to acknowledge what you have done and to commemorate it," said Kam.

A marker, shaped like the Mercury space capsule that carried John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth in 1962, was unveiled during the ceremony. Many of the Mercury engineering team members gathered in Boeing's Prologue Room in St. Louis to pose for pictures in front of a Mercury capsule they designed and built almost 50 years ago.

"It was a small, tight-knit organization," said Ron Schutz, a retired McDonnell Aircraft electrical engineer who worked on Mercury's communications systems.

Holding an original Mercury flight operations manual similar to the ones each astronaut carried on their flights into space, Allan Nelson remembered the early days at Cape Canaveral, Fla., in the 1960s and the pioneering work they did that helped put the first man on the moon.

"We didn't go down there [Florida] for money, we went down there to make sure to get this thing done and to get our guys up in space and to get them back unharmed," said Nelson.

Nelson's wife Ann also remembered those days and the first U.S. manned space flight.

"I'll never forget it, if I close my eyes I can see it today," she said. "[Mercury astronaut] Alan Shepard] going up. I stood in the front yard in our little duplex with tears. He was my hero."

The work done by the Boeing heritage company McDonnell Aircraft engineers still surprises some close to the project. Peering into the hatch of the Mercury capsule used for design and engineering purposes by the Mercury astronauts, retired engineer Ed Klein looked at the exposed wire bundles behind the instrument panel.

"When you look at that circuitry by today's standard, that is so crude, but it worked," Klein laughed.

In 1963, Mercury was the first program a young McDonnell Aircraft engineer named John Van Gels worked on with the company. Today, as Boeing Defense, Space & Security (BDS) vice president of strategic planning for Operations and Supplier Management, he told his former teammates that together they made history.

"We were the first people to design, assemble and deliver an unmanned American spacecraft into space," said Van Gels. "And that heritage continues every day."

Dennis Muilenburg, BDS president and CEO, said the Mercury engineers also continue to inspire a new generation.

"We are investing significantly in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), and encouraging children to get into STEM careers understanding the importance of science and technology to our country," Muilenburg said.

After the event, engineer Ron Schutz walked quietly through the Prologue Room staring at the capsule he had worked on so many years before.

Each of the Mercury engineers in attendance carried the same trait to the milestone event - humility - for the work they had done on America's first manned space flight program.

"We really felt we were doing something big back then," Schutz quietly said. "There is a lot of soul in that spacecraft."


Posts: 1050
From: Canada
Registered: Jul 2001

posted 04-01-2011 08:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for music_space   Click Here to Email music_space     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Fantastic video, with great details of the Mercury insides and operations! Do we know which Mercury spacecraft they display at their Boeing St-Louis "Prologue" room, the one we see in the video, with its electronics and electro-mechanicals still working? I noticed that its Orbit Flight Indicator is missing and replaced by a "glove compartment", like most of them.

Francois Guay
Collector of literature, notebooks, equipment and memories!

Robert Pearlman

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

posted 04-01-2011 09:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
According to Boeing, the Mercury on display is a full scale engineering mockup.

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