Skip to comments.Maxime Faget, Mercury Spacecraft Designer, Dead at 83
Posted on 10/11/2004 8:50:25 AM PDT by snopercod
Maxime Faget conceived and proposed the development of the one-man spacecraft used in Project Mercury, which put the first American astronauts into suborbital flight, then orbital flight, events that paved the way for landing on the moon. After retirement, Faget helped found one of the first private space companies, Space Industries.
Maxime Faget, who designed Project Mercury and contributed to every U.S. manned spacecraft Latest News about spacecraft afterwards, died at his home in Houston, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration said Sunday.
Faget, who was 83, died Saturday.
The engineer conceived and proposed the development of the one-man spacecraft used in Project Mercury, which put the first American astronauts into suborbital flight, then orbital flight, events that paved the way for landing on the moon, NASA Latest News about NASA said in a statement.
From 1961 to 1963, six U.S. astronauts were launched in Mercury capsules.
The last astronaut in the Mercury program, Gordon Cooper, died just a week ago at age 77. Cooper stayed aloft the longest of all Mercury flights, for 34 hours and 19 minutes.
"There is no one in space flight history in this or any other country who has had a larger impact on man's quest in space exploration," said Christopher Kraft, former director of the Johnson Space Centre.
Faget began his career as a research scientist in 1946, in the pilotless aircraft research field. He joined the space task group in 1958 that later evolved into the NASA Johnson Space Centre in Houston. Technical Maverick
"Without Max Faget's innovative designs and thoughtful approach to problem solving, America's space program would have had trouble getting off the ground," said NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe.
In addition to leading the initial design team that studied the possibility of moon flight, Faget designed and patented the emergency escape tower used at the launch pads and other devices. He was involved in developing the space shuttle, and retired in 1981 from NASA after the second shuttle mission.
"His genius allowed us to compete and win the space race to the moon," said NASA's Associate administrator for space operations William Readdy. Founded Space Industries
After retirement, Faget helped found one of the first private space companies, Space Industries Inc., established in 1982.
Faget was born August 26, 1921, in Stann Creek, British Honduras.
In another space milestone over the past week, the first private space ship, SpaceShipOne, crossed the brink of space for the second time in six days, earning the 10-million-dollar Ansari X prize.
The flight proved its viability as the prototype for the first commercial spaceliner.
RIP to a fellow engineer. Prayers and peace to those who loved him.
The Mercury capsule not only looked like it was built in a barn, it looked like it was built out of a barn. Corrugated sheet metal, riveted together.
Spaceship One, forty years later, was virtually built in a barn, but looks more organic than manufactured, seamless and elegant.
At the Smithsonian Aerospacer museum, where you can see both a Mercury capsule, adn the Spirit of St Louis, Lindberg's mission seems "sane" by comparison..
He also effectively killed the X-15 flights and turned "pilot" astronauts into passengers with the "man-in-a-can" program.
He tested the idea by taping pennies to a paper plate and tossing them off the second story of a building at Langley.
I believe it was Faget, as a member of the Challenger disaster team, that dipped a piece of the tank seal in ice water and broke it during the discussions. Problem found.
It can't be emphasised enough that until Rutan's Space Ship One, that Faget was an engineer on every existin american manned spacecraft.
"I believe it was Faget, as a member of the Challenger disaster team, that dipped a piece of the tank seal in ice water and broke it during the discussions. Problem found."
No, that was the physicist, Richard Feynman. A true genius with common sense approach to complex problems and a colorful character to boot. He worked on the a-bomb at Los Alamos early in his career.
A colorful character is right. His book: "Surely, you must be joking, Mr. Feynman." is an absolute stitch. Matthew Broderick made a movie out of it, but it didn't do the book justice.
Flying a spacecraft is easy. Designing and building one that can be flown is hard.
Durn, another pioneer gone.
And to think think he managed all his accomplishments despite a name like Max Faget.
Very sad. A true talent in space has died. No one will ever compare to Maxime A. Faget. God bless him and rest his soul. :(
Much of the engineering was intuitive to the point that some of the folks at Langley said that FAGET stood for Flat Ass Guess Every Time....but his designs flew!
Faget preferred a simple winged design but he also admitted that traditional wings would be very heavy and the leading edges would be difficult to protect from the searing heat of reentry. His solution was the DC-3 which alleviated the problem by reentering at a very high angle of attack (60 deg.), i.e. coming in nose-high much like the suborbital X-15 rocketplane. This would only expose the flat underside of the vehicle, as most of the thermal energy goes into the shock wave forming in front of the vehicle.