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Glynn Lunney, the NASA flight director who directed the mission from the ‘trench’ to the moon, has passed away

Glynn S. Lunney, a Flight director who was an architect interested in the outset of NASA‘s attempts to send the first space-explorers into orbit and then guided Mission Control during some of the most challenging and victorious hours, has passed away aged 84 years.

NASA announced Lunney’s death on Friday (March 19). Lunney passed away after a lengthy illness, as per a family friend. “Glynn was the best guy at the right moment in history,” NASA’s Johnson Space Center chief Mark Geyer stated in a release. “His singular leadership and extraordinarily swift intelligence were vital to the progress of some of the human spaceflight’s most iconic achievements.”

“He was not only one of the most well-known NASA graduates but also among the most modest individuals I have ever seen. He was a big supporter of the NASA group and was so kind in sharing his experience with us, “Geyer stated.

Lunney was a co-op student working with the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) in the year 1958 when NASA hired him at the age of 22. He, as well as his colleagues at the Langley Research Center situated in Hampton, Virginia, were entrusted with working out how to bring the first explorers into orbit as the youngest members of the Space Mission Community. Lunney was originally charged with developing the virtual missions used to teach other flight controllers. On the first Project Mercury flights, he worked at a remote monitoring facility.

In a 1999 NASA oral history session, he stated, “I was at Bermuda station.” “Bermuda is around 800 miles [1,300 kilometers] out in the ocean from Florida, where we initiated [the missions], and the location where the vehicle went into space was around halfway between the two.”

“There was some uncertainty on how far we could say whether vehicle was in the orbit or even not since it was too close to the horizon from Cape [Canaveral, Florida]. So, I began my career as a flight dynamics personnel at Bermuda control center, where I was present for a lot of flights, both unmanned as well as manned.”

Lunney operated the remaining three initial astronaut flights from Mercury Control Center in Florida since the arrival of John Glenn on the very first United States crewed spacecraft to orbit Earth in 1962 before serving as the director of the flight dynamics division.

“We had an amazing cast of characters,” Lunney stated. “The front row was named the ‘trench.’ I’m not sure who coined the term or where it originated from, but the front row was dubbed the ‘trench,’ as well as the three console controllers who worked there saw themselves as a group in charge of all facets of the flight’s trajectory as well as orbital mechanics.”

This post was originally published on Downey Magazine