Milestones in Space

By E.B. (Bert) Jones Jr.

September 2015

My Boeing story has to do with the space programs I worked on and the fact that I worked for The Boeing Company for 36 years, from 1962 to 1998, and never worked on an airplane.

I came to Boeing in 1962 and was one of many young engineers that Boeing hired to staff its space efforts. My first job was on the Apollo program as a Manufacturing engineer on the design of handling equipment for the Saturn V first stage. While working full time I obtained a master's degree and wrote my thesis on a large ring that was used to handle the first-stage tanks and components. At the conclusion of this first assignment, my name was entered into the Apollo/Saturn V Roll of Honor.

My second job, in 1969, was the lunar roving vehicle. I was responsible for establishing the design parameters for the astronauts (the adjustment range of the seats, the position of the controller and console, the foot supports, handholds, etc.). I supported the detail part fabrication of the flight articles, the assembly and test, and provided necessary problem resolution. For my work on the lunar roving vehicle, I received a large picture of it on the moon surface -- autographed by the three Apollo 15 astronauts, who also presented it to me.

My third job, from 1972 to 1978, was a series of Air Force and NASA satellites. These satellites were used for space experiments and upper atmosphere evaluation. I was responsible for the design of the satellite structure on two of them and was responsible for the assembly and problem resolution on all of them. Boeing received the NASA Pubic Service Group Achievement Award for our work on two of these satellites

My fourth job, from 1979 to 1989, was on the Air Force's Inertial Upper Stage (IUS) program. My job was the design of the structure of the Airborne Support Equipment (ASE) that supported and deployed the IUS from the shuttle cargo bay. I worked many long hours on the first couple of launches until we got all the problems resolved. I was in the Shuttle Challenger's cargo bay and crew compartment after our first launch (STS-6) to ensure everything had worked properly. The result of that inspection was that our systems had performed flawlessly. And even though IUS was in the Challenger's cargo bay for the disastrous 51-L mission, our hardware played no part in that horrendous tragedy. In 1985, I wrote and presented a paper on the design of the IUS ASE and was nominated for Employee of the Year.

My final job with the company was from 1989 until I retired in 1998. I worked as a first-line design manager on the Space Station program, and my responsibility was the Man Systems hardware. Man Systems hardware were the things that the astronauts interfaced with while working, sleeping, eating -- their mobility aids and toilets. We received the NASA Space Station "Award of Merit" for our work on a Man Systems Shuttle experiment.

Thank you, Boeing.