Lawrence Edwards - Accomplishments in Aerospace

Accomplishments in Aerospace

Edwards played key roles in the engineering of four of the nation's major aerospace programs:

  • Talos, a long-range surface-to-air missile that served as the U.S. Navy's primary anti-aircraft missile for 20 years. Talos was history's first supersonic missile with ramjet propulsion, making it far more fuel-efficient than rockets. Edwards was project engineer for this program at McDonnell Aircraft Corp., which later became McDonnell Douglas.
  • Polaris, the first in a succession of submarine-based Fleet Ballistic Missiles that still constitutes the backbone of the nation's strategic defense. Edwards managed its preliminary design at Lockheed Missile Systems Division, (now Lockheed Martin) and continued as assistant director for systems engineering during the missile's early development.
  • Lockheed Agena, which became America's most-used space vehicle. Agena's first use was to support cameras and recoverable film of Corona, history's first spy satellite, providing vital intelligence for four successive Presidents. Additional uses included the first successful cameras to the moon, Venus and Mars and propelling Gemini astronauts to world-record speed and altitude. Edwards was instrumental in debugging the troubled A and B versions of Agena and then initiated the enormously successful Agena D.
  • Space Shuttle: Edwards' aerospace achievements paved the way for his appointment as Director of Shuttle Engineering at NASA headquarters. He later became Chief of Advanced Space Transportation. In addition, he served as NASA's primary DOD technical interface for the Strategic Defense Initiative and on NASA's Inventions and Contributions Board.

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