One Giant Leap ~ Celebrating Apollo 11: Rich Daugherty

By Meredith McCulloch

Rich Daugherty attended Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Indiana where he majored in mathematics.  After school, he went to work at the North American Aviation Division of Rocketdyne.

Part of his job in 1963 was to build and run a simulator lunar excursion control module. His team built a training ground based on the terrain in Iceland that was seen as the closest on Earth to the surface of the moon.

Daugherty participated in the discussions about how to get there. There were three possibilities: travel from the earth directly to the moon; launch to orbit around the moon and then land, or to launch from earth to moon orbit and use a separate vehicle to land.  Obviously, the third was chosen.

The coordination of the team was critical. It was important to be disciplined, to stick to the engineering principles, and to focus on what had to be solved that day until a consensus was reached. Changes were made by cutting out a section of the plan and taping in another; it was literally “cut and paste.”

Daugherty recalls the sense of camaraderie, as everyone worked together. It was the first time for everything. He concluded, ‘It was the best fun of my life. We did something that really made a difference.”

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 the interviews will appear separately, under the individual’s name, and will be collected in a single reference document once all are posted.

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