Sam Dougherty shared an insider’s view of the Apollo space program research and testing performed at Arnold Engineering Development Complex (AEDC) in the 1960s in a presentation on July 12, 2019, at the UT Space Institute (UTSI).
Dougherty, of NASA’s Space Launch System in Huntsville, Alabama, graduated from UT in 1962 with a BS in mechanical engineering and then earned his Master’s degree in aerospace engineering from UTSI in 1970. He spent most of his working career in human space flight endeavors.
The presentation included beautiful photos of the Apollo 11 launch, views of Earth from the Moon, and hand drawn plans for testing. Around 80 attendees enjoyed the talk, given at the UTSI View, including many interns from UTSI and AEDC.
Dougherty’s biggest mission was when AEDC supported Apollo 8 in December 1968. This was the first-round trip for humans from Earth. Every Apollo flight before 11 was a precursor to the actual lunar landing, fulfilling the famous task given by President John Kennedy.
Testing in the USAF Ground Test Altitude Space Chambers and wind tunnels at AEDC for NASA were part of working out critical issues and developing solutions before flights.
Dougherty is presently employed for NASA by ERC, Inc., through the Jacobs Space Exploration Group in Huntsville. He is listed as a national expert in the field of rocket propulsion testing. He also serves as the Propulsion Member of the Avionics and Software Control Board for the rocket which will take astronauts back to the Moon and on to Mars under NASA’s Artemis Program.