Sponsorship Announcement: Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum to Co-Sponsor International Space Development Conference in St. Louis May 25-29

The Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum has become a co-sponsor of the International Space Development Conference to be held May 25-29 in St. Louis.  Over the next few months, we will be promoting the conference and bringing the highlights of the event to our audience as it progresses.  The museum will also partner with The Aero Experience, another co-sponsor, with an exhibit at the conference.

We encourage you to attend the event, which features world-renowned speakers and cutting-edge breakout sessions that push the envelope of conventional space exploration.  Topics such as return to the moon, living in space, mars settlement and advanced propulsion systems will be explored.

The museum commends the National Space Society and the St. Louis Space Frontier for their hard work in hosting this amazing event.  Click on the image below for more information and check back for future updates!

Veteran McDonnell Spacecraft Team Honored on 50th Anniversary of Gemini Manned Flights

The fiftieth anniversary of the beginning of manned Gemini spacecraft missions was marked by the Missouri Aviation Historical Society during their monthly meeting on Thursday evening.  The event was a cooperative effort among aerospace organizations to honor the contributions of McDonnell Aircraft, including a select group of veteran Gemini program engineers, to successful manned space flight involving America’s dual-crew spacecraft.

Missouri Aviation Historical Society President, Dan O’Hara, coordinated the event and provided an informational presentation about the Gemini space program.  A display of Gemini spacecraft memorabilia was provided by the Space Museum in Bonne Terre, MO and the Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum in Cahokia, IL:

Project Gemini mission patches and thrusters


Models of Gemini spacecraft include Rogallo Wing concept


Moderator Earl Mullins

Following the introductory program, a panel discussion, featuring veteran McDonnell Aircraft engineers who designed portions of the Gemini spacecraft, was moderated by Earl Mullins, Curator and Founder of the Space Museum in Bonne Terre, MO.  Members of the guest panel were: Ray Tucker, electrical ground support engineer who worked on cable systems within the launch complex; Dean Purdy, electrical engineer who worked in the St. Louis Gemini test complex; Norman Beckel, electronics engineer who developed and tested communication systems on the Gemini spacecraft; Earl Robb, structural and mechanical design engineer who designed portions of the Gemini spacecraft, including the equipment module; and Jerry Roberts, engineer who worked on guidance and control systems for the Gemini Spacecraft.

Panel members (L-R): Ray Tucker, Dean Purdy, Norman Beckel,
Earl Robb,  and Jerry Roberts


Earl Robb makes a point about the design of the equipment module


Jerry Roberts discusses the guidance and control system

Several themes emerged during the discussion, including the importance of the space program in technological as well as geo-political terms.  The Gemini program developed techniques and practices needed to maneuver and navigate in space – essential capabilities for the upcoming Apollo lunar missions.  The Gemini astronauts, most of whom went on to fly Apollo lunar missions, learned how to rendezvous and dock with other spacecraft, work effectively outside of the spacecraft, and practice precision recoveries.  The panelists shared their behind-the-scenes anecdotes, remembering those like astronaut Gus Grissom and McDonnell Aircraft flight nurse Rose Church who devoted their lives to making the program succeed.  Questions from the audience were fielded prior to wrapping up the program with the presentation of a special fiftieth anniversary cake sponsored by McArthur’s Bakery.  The panelists were also presented with a copy of the book, NASA Gemini Owner’s Workshop Manual as a special gift.

Missouri Aviation Historical Society President Dan O’Hara presents
the NASA Gemini Owner’s Workshop Manual to the panelists

Special thanks to the McDonnell Aircraft Gemini panelists, Missouri Aviation Historical Society, Creve Coeur Airport, the Space Museum in Bonne Terre, MO, the Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum, the St. Louis Space Frontier, the Boeing Company and McArthur’s Bakery for contributing to the program.  Video from the program will appear on the Missouri Aviation Historical Society website in the near future.

St. Louis Aerospace Community Welcomes Legendary NASA Apollo Program Flight Director Gene Kranz

Members of the St. Louis aerospace community welcomed legendary NASA Apollo Program Flight Director Gene Kranz at a dinner reception this evening at the Moonrise Hotel in the Delmar Loop.  The dinner was held in honor of Gene Kranz and his wife Marta, and included guests Lowell and Bobette Grissom and representatives from the St. Louis Rocketry Association, St. Louis Science Center, St. Louis University parks College, St. Louis Space Frontier, St. Louis Challenger Learning Center, Missouri Space Grant Consortium, Missouri Coalition for Math and Science, Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum and the Bonne Terre Space Museum.  Gene Kranze will make appearances at several events to encourage students to pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers, culminating with a public event this Saturday at the St. Louis Science Center.

NASA photo

Gene Kranz has past connections to the St. Louis area.  He obtained his aeronautical engineering degree from Parks College and worked on several projects for McDonnell Aircraft Corporation in the mid 1950s.  He joined NASA in 1960 in the Flight Control Operations Branch, and served in ever more responsible roles through the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Skylab and Space Shuttle programs.  He is probably best known as the Lead Flight Director during the Apollo 13 mission, living up to the motto, ”Failure is not an Option,” and donning a white vest that has become a symbol of his role in the space race.  During tonight’s dinner reception, Gene Kranz was given a white vest with patches representing the sponsors of his visit to St. Louis this week.  The Aero Experience Founder Carmelo Turdo, representing his role on the Board of Directors of the Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum, was one of the guests.  Here are some views of the festivities:

Gene Kranz (left) with David Kovar of the St. Louis Rocketry
Association and his wife Marta Kranz
Gene Kranz (left) with Joe Edwards, developer of the
Delmar Loop area of St. Louis


A donation to Gene Kranz’s favorite charity, Habitat for Humanity,
was presented during the dinner reception


David Kovar of the St. Louis Rocketry Association with his scale
model of the Apollo Saturn V rocket

Aerospace Community Mourns the Loss of Rose Church, “Flight Nurse to the Astronauts”

The aerospace community mourns the recent loss after a brief illness of our dear friend, Mrs. Rose Church, the “Flight Nurse to the Astronauts” during the budding Mercury and Gemini spacecraft programs at McDonnell Aircraft Corporation in St. Louis, MO.  Starting out as an industrial nurse at McDonnell Aircraft in the early 1950s, she essentially created the job of flight nurse for the space program when McDonnell Aircraft became the prime contractor for Mercury and later Gemini spacecraft.  Her work brought such esteem from the astronauts, many of whom went on to the Apollo program, and the NASA hierarchy that she was invited to the last Space Shuttle launch as a VIP guest nearly 50 years later.  She continued to educate the public about the space program after leaving McDonnell and during her second career in real estate, and was a life member of, and generous contributor to, the Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum at St. Louis Downtown Airport in Cahokia.  She will be remembered not only as an aerospace pioneer, but even more so as a lady who showed kindness and service to all she encountered.  Rose Church dreamed of going to the moon – her plan was a one-way colonization mission for older folks – but those who knew her are confident that she is now far beyond the moon, touring the universe with the One who created it.

For more information about Rose Church, please visit the previous posting on The Aero Experience and the Missouri Historical Society’s biography page at