HomeTechnologyWilliam E. Stoney Jr., NASA engineer throughout area race, dies at 96

William E. Stoney Jr., NASA engineer throughout area race, dies at 96



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William E. Stoney Jr., an aeronautical engineer who made essential contributions to NASA’s mission throughout the area race as a developer of early rockets and a lead engineer on the Apollo program, died Could 28 at a rehabilitation heart in Ashburn, Va. He was 96.

The trigger was problems from a fall, stated his son Robert Stoney.

Mr. Stoney was in his early 20s, contemporary out of MIT following service as an airplane mechanic throughout World Struggle II, when he joined NASA’s predecessor company, the Nationwide Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, in 1949.

Working at Langley Analysis Middle in Hampton, Va., he joined a gaggle of engineers famend for his or her imaginative work on pilotless plane and rocket know-how.

Mr. Stoney thus was in a key place when the area race started within the Nineteen Fifties, pitting the 2 Chilly Struggle superpowers, the US and the Soviet Union, in a contest to succeed in what was seen as the ultimate frontier.

A important second — and an embarrassing setback for the US — got here in 1957 with the profitable Soviet launch of Sputnik 1, the primary synthetic satellite tv for pc.

“We have been dissatisfied we weren’t the primary,” Mr. Stoney mirrored years later, “however in one other sense it reassured us that we have been actually heading in the right direction — that, boy, we actually might get supported any further, as a result of this was essential that the U.S. proceed to attempt to catch up, and we have been a part of that recreation.”

Mr. Stoney grew to become this system supervisor overseeing the event of the solid-propellant rocket generally known as Scout. NASA at this time describes the rocket as “one of the profitable boosters” within the historical past of the area company, with payloads producing “important developments in atmospheric and area science.”

Within the Nineteen Sixties, as ambitions shifted to manned spaceflight, Mr. Stoney was appointed chief of superior area car ideas at NASA’s Washington headquarters and led the superior spacecraft know-how division in Houston. He served in prime engineering roles throughout the Apollo program, whose sign accomplishment was the moon touchdown by astronaut Neil Armstrong in 1969. That yr, Mr. Stoney obtained the NASA Distinctive Service Medal for his work on the Apollo mission.

After he had “rubbed the moon mud” out of his eyes, as he put it, Mr. Stoney grew to become director of NASA’s earth observations applications in 1973, main the event of satellites for meteorological functions in addition to the monitoring of atmospheric air pollution and earth assets.

William Edmund Stoney Jr. was born on Sept. 13, 1925, in Terre Haute, Ind., and grew up in Charleston, S.C., and in Brooklyn. His father was a civil engineer who labored on the Panama Canal, and his mom was a homemaker. Observing her younger son’s curiosity in flight, she as soon as accompanied Mr. Stoney to an airfield the place he flew aboard an airplane piloted by pioneering aviator Clarence D. Chamberlin.

After Military Air Forces service within the Pacific throughout World Struggle II, Mr. Stoney obtained a bachelor’s diploma in aeronautical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Know-how in 1949. He obtained two grasp’s levels, one in aeronautical engineering from the College of Virginia in 1951 and one other in industrial administration from MIT in 1962.

Mr. Stoney retired from NASA in 1978 and later labored within the personal sector, together with with the RCA Corp. on superior robotics and with Noblis, a nonprofit know-how firm.

Mr. Stoney’s first marriage, to Roberta Beckner, led to divorce. His second spouse, Pleasure Scafard Stoney, died in 2016 after 51 years of marriage.

Survivors embrace three stepchildren from his second marriage whom he adopted, Catherine Stoney of Vienna, Va., Jeanne Stoney-Disston of Weston, Conn., and Robert Stoney of Herndon, Va.; a son from his second marriage, John Stoney of Austin; seven grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

Mr. Stoney had been a member since his 20s of the American Society for Psychical Analysis and had amassed a set of greater than 1,000 books and different supplies on the paranormal and the potential for life after dying.

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