Richard Heckmann was born in Ohio, and he lived there until he was 9 years old. When he turned 9, his dad received a civil engineering job in Washington D.C., so they moved there soon after. After this, they then moved to Maryland. Richard explains that he was a sickly child, and he was once in a coma for 10 days when he was just 7 years old. Growing up, he became more healthy and ended up going to Johns Hopkins University and graduated with an Engineering Science degree. Richard eventually accepted a commission in the ordinance corp, and he went to Fort Bliss for a guided missile school. He spent two years in the autillery there. At Fort Bliss, he received his private pilot's license while he was in the service. Then, they took Richard back to the ordinance corp. and they sent him down to the Redstone Arsenal, where he got stationed. After this career, Richard worked as a project engineer for the manufacturing for hardware at Thiokol. He then transferred to Hayes Industry, and he worked with the manufacturing engineering lab at the Marshall Space Flight Center. There, he worked on the Apollo Applications Program.
Charles Van Valkenburg grew up in Huntsville, AL, and he went to Auburn University. There, he majored in Industrial Design and he had a part-time job as a draftsman at one of the civil engineering firms. After graduating college, he received a job at Essex in Huntsville. At this job, Charles would get in the water of the Neutral Buoyancy Tank and make sure that all the tools and everything was in place for an astronaut. Sometimes, he would even be the test subject. After all the testing from the day, they would all have a debriefing session at this company where the astronaut, human factors experts, and engineers would all make inputs. After the debriefing, they would take the ideas and get the machinists to make some modifications to the hardware. Charles would also work in pressure suits, and he explains how restricted the suit made him feel. He also mentions the foot restraints, and how difficult they were to work with. In his career, Charles was also able to help design the underwater version of the manned maneuvering unit.
Edwin Pruitt is from a small town in Alabama. He went to Auburn University, and when he was a sophomore there, he applied to a co-op position. In this co-op, he was assigned to a flight-dynamics group. Edwin was not satisfied with this position, so he asked to be switched to another one. In this new co-op, he was able to drive around on the simulated moon surface. Some things he was also involved in was diving into the Neutral Buoyancy Simulator, flying on the KC-135, and he had the freedom to represent his group with other part of the center where he worked. After Edwin graduated from college, he got a job at GE Aerospace in Valley Forge. They had a contract with the Airforce to train the Airforce astronauts. He eventually got laid off from this position, and he next got a job at Teledyne Brown Engineering. After working there for a couple of years, he found a job at Matrix in Huntsville. After working here, he found a job at Essex working on proposals.
Charles Dissinger was born and raised in Virginia. As a small child, Charles's father would drive him over to the Langley Research Center in Virginia, and he was always engaged with the space program. Charles remembers watching every space launch on tv with his dad as a kid. Being inspired by space, he decided to go to The University of Virginia to get his bachelor's degree in Biology. Then, after graduating, he taught high school for 4 years. After this, he went back to graduate school at West Virginia University to get his master's degree in Biology/Biochemistry. His second career after teaching, was doing Biochemical research for 19 years. Charles's wife later on received a job offer at The Marshall Space Flight Center in Hunstville, AL to join the Information Technology Organization there. She took this job, and they moved to Huntsville. Charles was then soon after hired in 1994 at NASA. His first project there included finding the requirements for the NASA Standard 3000 design. This project was called "The Launch Deployment Assembly" which was a system to deliver the robotic arm to the space station. Another program Charles was involved in was the Propulsion Module.
After Robert McBrayer graduated college, he reported to the Johnson Space Center in March of 1963. He was there assigned to a section called "Biodynamics" and in that section, they worked on Human tolerances to impact sustaining acceleration and acoustics. Robert was assigned to the acoustics group, and his first job was to design and develop a machine to produce low-frequency pure tones to test humans. He also designed and developed a test chamber for testing humans, and he participated in doing the actual human test with the machines that he helped build. He helped document the results as well. After his venture in doing basic research, he went into an area called "crew's survival equipment design and development," and he was assigned pieces of equipment that were his to design, update, and help build. In 1966, Robert asked to be transferred from the Johnson Space Center to the Marshall Space Flight Center, and he then moved to Huntsville, AL. Robert was immediately put on the Orbital Workshop where they were writing task analysis, and procedures for crew station reviews. They did two of those, on in 1967 and the other in 1968. From the Orbital Workshop, he was responsible for all the crew interfaces on adapter, etc.
Michael Bacato was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1927. When he started high school at the age of 14, Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese. When he graduated high school, he enlisted in the Navy in 1945 so he wouldn't have to go into the Army. He stayed in the Navy for two years. In the Navy, Michael was on a crew of the Destroyer. When he got discharged from the Navy, he then started college in 1948. To help pay for college, he started working with the merch marines selling out oil tanks. He finished this in 1951. Michael started out in college at New York University, and soon after he almost had to go back to the Navy because North Korea invaded South Korea. To avoid going back, he joined the ROTC at NYU with the airforce. In 1952, he entered the extended active duty with the United States airforce as a second lieutenant. He went to Keesler Airforce Base for training, and he spent two years there. There, he became a Radar Officer. After his training, Michael then started to become interested with Von Braun, and the development of rockets in Huntsville, AL. He then finally made a decision to leave the airforce, and he moved to Huntsville to work. He went into the Mechanical Engineering Design group. One of the first projects he was assigned to was the life support system, working with two monkeys. He then was offered a job in the Bioengineering group, which he liked much better, so he decided to stay with this group. His last program he worked on was on the Hubble Telescope, where he had the opportunity to work with Buzz Aldron.
Bran Griffin was born in Medford, Oregon. His father was in the military, so they moved around a lot. Bran went to the University of Texas his first year of college, and he studied Architecture. Then, he graduated college with a degree in Architecture from Washington State University. He then went to graduate scholl in Southern California, and he received a fine arts degree. After this, Bran wanted to get a degree in something a little more stable, so he went back to school to get his master's degree in Architecture. After this, Bran was on a shuttleship for a couple of years in Rome, and then he came back to start his career in teaching Architecture. Even though he was teaching Architecture, he had an intense passion for space. Because of this passion, he started to become involved with the Johnson Space Center with a faculty fellowship. Bran was in their Spacecraft Design Division. Since he wanted to be closer to be a part of the Space Industry, he decided to move to Washington State. After a while of working in Washington State, he received a job offer from Boeing in Hunstville, AL and began his career there being involved with the space station.
Vigontus Kulpa grew up in Huntsville, AL. Ever since he was young, Kulpa was always interested with the space program. He ended up going to college at UAH, and was considered a "feter" co-op engineer, so he actually started out at The Marshall Space Flight Center. There, Kulpa worked with the Human Systems Integration Branch. In college, Kulpa started out at UAH, but eventually ended up graduating from college at Auburn University. He then came back to UAH to receive his Master's degree in Systems Engineering and his Doctorate in Psychology and Human Factors. Kulpa's first full-time assignment was as a Crew Procedures Engineer. In this job, he was considered "between" the scientists that did the experiments, and the astronauts. Kulpa ended up working with the Avionics group to design a battery-operated wrench, and he took this on the KC-135. He also was able to work to help re-design the space station. After a while, he switched jobs and worked with the Neutral-Buoyancy Tank where he worked on how to make a space shuttle suit work underwater.
Steven Hall was born in a small town in the north central part of Indiana. This town has about a population of 2,000 people. Steven graduated from Eastern High School in 1963, and then he enrolled in Aeronautical/Neurospace Engineering at Purdue University. There, he received his bachelor's degree in 1968. Steven originally became interested in man space-flight when he was just about 10 years old. At this age, he had no clue how he could get involved with the space station, but he knew that he wanted to get involved one day. After he graduated college, he was so ready to work at NASA, that he left his home town immediately to move down to Huntsville, AL to start working. When he began working at the Marshall Space Flight Center, he was shown how Human Factors Engineering worked. One of the first projects that Steven was able to work on was "Skylab" where they built a lot of the equipment that probed how humans responded to space, and how the body changes in space. He also worked on a program to design a vehicle to drive around the surface of the moon.
George Hamilton has lived in Huntsville, Alabama all of his life, and his father was a Charter Marshall Member in Huntsville. When he was working, George's father was chosen as a "guinea pig" to go up in the Pregnant Guppy, which was a large, wide-bodied cargo aircraft. Because of George's father's career and interest with NASA, it made George interested in the career as well. George has a lot of family stories like this, which all have inspired him to take on his career that he has now. After high school, George went to The University of South Alabama in Mobile to study Marine Biology. Over the summer he had a change of heart, so he decided to transfer to Auburn University for Mechanical Engineering. After he finished up with his degree, he started working in small, manufacturing spare parts for missiles. After this career, he started to work at Avco Electronics in Huntsville where he worked at the plant on the design side. After this, Avco started looking for people to go overseas on the construction side of the house, so George went overseas with them. Then he came back, got married, and received his Phd in Biomedical Engineering at The University of Alabama in Birmingham.