One Giant Leap~ Celebrating Apollo 11: Harvey Malchow


By Meredith McCulloch

Harvey Malchow worked on the Apollo project from 1967 to 1970 while he was at the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory, a key player in the Apollo Guidance and Navigation systems development. (The I-Lab later evolved into the Draper Laboratory). Malchow’s main contribution to the project was in creating a theoretical model of the earth’s sun-lit atmosphere.

On the return trip from the moon, a measurement of the atmosphere’s brightness at a particular altitude could be used to define the capsule’s direction to the center of the earth, thus enabling a final and critical course correction before re-entry into the atmosphere.

When asked how it feels to see the 50th-anniversary celebrations of Apollo 11’s success, Malchow replied, “It’s a good feeling. I feel blessed to have been able to work on such an extraordinary project so early in my career”. He was pleased to participate in an MIT celebration of the flight anniversary in June. Caroline Kennedy attended the event, representing her father who set the nation’s goal of putting a man on the moon.

Editor’s Note: Meredith McCulloch has sought out individuals with Bedford connections who were part of NASA’s Apollo program – Click this link to learn more about her project – each of her interviews will appear separately, under their name, and will be collected in a single reference document once all are posted.

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