The Astronaut Maker
How One Mysterious Engineer Ran Human Spaceflight for a Generation
Michael Cassutt, 2018 BVTN 921 ABBEY, GEORGE
I wish I had more time to read books like this; I read the first 25 chapters, sampled the rest, and put it aside for more urgent tasks.
Space is not achieved by machines, but by hundreds of thousands of people: engineers, production workers, managers, bureaucrats, and the people who pay for all of this. This is about one of the engineer/managers, who set aside his dreams of becoming an astronaut in order to help hundreds of others achieve theirs. Abbey should have flown as passenger, not Utah Senator Jake Garn, whose politicking for Utah-based Thiokol's segmented solids (rather than one-piece solids fabricated east of the Rockies) indirectly killed the Challenger crew.
I might enjoy an hour of conversation with George Abbey; so would thousands of other engineers like me, and Abbey deserves his privacy. Author Cassutt talked with him for the rest of us, and did a pretty good job.
Abbey was born in Seattle on August 21, 1932, graduated from Annapolis in 1953, flew jets and helicopters for the Air Force, was a candidate astronaut for the cancelled Dyna-Soar and the Manned Orbital Laboratory programs, and hoped to become a NASA astronaut.
- p117: CCB: (1926 Austrian-born refugee) George Low's configuration control board, et 90 times between June 1967 and July 1969, considering 1697 proposed changes, approving 1341 and rejecting 346. Abbey was secretary, and took care of details for Low.
- p392: Abbey also found funding for VASIMR (Franklin Diaz Ad Astra Rocket Company).
Seattle-born George Abbey and Baltimore girlfriend Joyce Widerman were married in 1955, had five children between 1957(?) and 1972, and divorced in 1980; "workaholic" George had custody of the three minor children. The family lived on Davon Lane about about a mile south of Johnson Space Center. George still lives nearby. His papers are at the Museum of Flight in Seattle. His daughter Suzanne Abbey Fair (1965?) of Dallas is the family archivist (p421).