Monday, January 14, 2013

Brainerd Holmes (1921-2013)

D. Brainerd Holmes: TIME, August 10, 1962
[Boris Artzybasheff].
Ben Evans

In spite of a relatively short career within NASA’s senior leadership, D. Brainerd Holmes – who died on Friday, aged 91, from complications of pneumonia – established himself as a shining star in the Apollo era, to such an extent that he found himself on the cover of Time magazine in August 1962 as the agency’s ‘Space Planner’. This brilliant electrical engineer saw military service in World War II and later forged an engineering and industrial career with Western Electric, Bell Laboratories, RCA and Raytheon and, as NASA’s Director of the Office of Manned Space Flight from September 1961 until August 1963, was instrumental in tackling the practicalities of President John F. Kennedy’s thorny goal of putting a man on the Moon. Several years later, when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin accomplished that goal, Holmes told the New York Times that “we should remember such endeavors as these and know that when given a challenge Americans today can be as hard, as aggressive and as brave as the men who founded this land”.

Dyer Brainerd Holmes was born on 24 May 1921 in Brooklyn, N.Y., but grew up in East Orange, N.J. After graduating from Cornell University with a degree in electrical engineering, he entered the Navy and served throughout the final years of World War II. Returning to civilian life, Holmes worked at Bell Telephone Labs from 1945-53 and at RCA from 1953-61, where he rose to become general manager of the Major Defense Systems Division. Within this role, he oversaw the development of the Talos anti-aircraft missile and electronic systems for the Atlas missile. During this period, he also project managed a federally-sponsored effort to design and implement the Air Force’s Ballistic Missile Early Warning System (BMEWS), with radar installations in Alaska, Greenland and the United Kingdom, whose intent was to detect Soviet missile launches.

Read the obituary at AmericaSpace, HERE.

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