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Kehlet, Alan Bernard
Kehlet, Alan Bernard
American engineer. Inventor of lenticular manned spacecraft; managerial engineering positions on Apollo program (1962-1969); Vice President for Delta booster 1988-1993.

Born: January 1929. Birth Place: Chicago, Illinois.

Kehlet, the son of a Danish tailor, graduated from Joliet Township High School in 1946. After receiving a degree in aeronautical engineering from the University of Illinois, he worked as an aerodynamicist at NACA/NASA Langley from 1951 to 1962, and served on the Space Task Group which formulated the American space program of the 1960's. Most of the remainder of his career was spent at what became Rockwell Corporation, first unsuccessfully advocating use of his lenticular spacecraft design for future manned space missions; then in various management roles on Project Apollo; and finally in management of commercial aircraft programs, except for a stint as Vice President in charge of the Delta Launch Vehicle in 1988-1993.

Offical NASA Biography

NAME: Alan Bernard Kehlet

ORAL HISTORY: 30 September 2005

B.S. in Aeronautical Engineering, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, 1951
M.S. in Aeronautical Engineering, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, 1961
M.B.A in Business Administration, California State University, Dominguez Hills, California (1976)


Junior Clerk, U.S. Naval Storage, Rockdale, Illinois (1945)
Helper/Contractor, Axel E. Kehlet, Joliet, Illinois (1946-1947)
Maintenance Helper, Ira E. Spencer, Joliet, Illinois (1948-1951)
National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, Langley Aeronautical Laboratory, Hampton, Virginia
Aerodynamics Research Intern, Aircraft Configuration Section, General
Aerodynamics Branch, Pilotless Aircraft Research Division (1951)
Aerodynamic Research Scientist, Aircraft Configuration Branch, Pilotless Aircraft Research Division (1952-1958)


Space Task Group, Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia
Head, Aerodynamics Group, Flight Systems Division (1958-1959)
Head, Aerodynamic Section, Performance Branch, Flight Systems Division (1959)
Assistant Chief, Flight Dynamics Branch, Flight Systems Division (1960)
Aerospace Technician (AST), Control and Guidance Systems, Flight Dynamics Branch, Flight Systems Division (1961-1962)
AST, Apollo Projects Office, Operations Division (1962)
Assistant for Flight Programs, Applied Materials and Physics Division, Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia (1962)


North American Aviation, Inc./North American Rockwell/Rockwell International, Space Division, Downey, California

  • Technical Assistant to the Chief Engineer (1962)
  • Assistant Chief Project Manager (1963)
  • Project Manager, Block II Design (1964)
  • Chief Project Engineer (1965)
  • Assistant Program Manager, Apollo 11 (1967-1969)
  • Chief Program Engineer (1969-1973)
Rockwell International, Sabreliner Division
  • Division Chief Engineer (1973-1979) General Aviation Division
  • Executive Vice President (1979-1980) Sabreliner Division
  • President (1980-1982) Fairchild Aviation Division
Rockwell International, McDonnell Douglas Corporation
  • President (1982-1983) Astronautics Group
  • Vice President of Engineering and Operations (1984)
  • Vice President and G.M., Tomahawk Cruise Missiles (1984-1988)
  • Vice President, Delta Launch Vehicles (1988-1993)
  • Vice President and G.M., Advance Programs and Technology (1993-1996)


  • NASA Citation for Contribution to Project Mercury, 1962
  • North American Aviation Achievement Award, 1963
  • NASA Certificate of Appreciation for Apollo 11 Accomplishments, 1969
  • Who's Who in Aviation, 1973
  • Distinguished Alumnus Award, Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering, University of Illinois, 1981
  • Elected to Tau Beta Pi, Honorary Engineering Society, 1982
  • Alumni Honors Award, College of Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign, 1982
  • Alumni Achievement Award, Joliet Junior College, 1986
  • Outstanding Alumni, Junior Colleges of Illinois, 1988
  • Elected to Fellow, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, 1995
  • Elected to Fellow, Institute for the Advancement of Engineering, Inc., 1995
  • 1995 Engineer of the Year, Orange County Engineering Council, 1995
  • Distinguished Engineering Achievement Award, Los Angeles Council of Engineers and Scientists, 1995


Kehlet, Alan B. "Aerodynamic characteristics at transonic and supersonic speeds of a rocket-propelled airplane configuration having a diamond-plan-form wing of aspect ratio 3.08 and a low, swept horizontal tail." NACA (CASI 19930088506). Hampton, VA: Langley Research Center, 1954.

Kehlet, Alan B. and Herbert G. Patterson. "Free-Flight Test of a Technique for Inflating an NASA 12-Foot-Diameter Sphere at High Altitudes." NASA-MEMO-2-5-59L (CASI 19980232004). Hampton, VA: Langley Research Center, 1959.

Bond, Aleck C. and Alan B. Kehlet. "Remarks on the Status of Project Mercury." In the Presentations before the Flight Mechanics Panel of the Advisory Group for the Aeronautical Research and Development North American Treaty Organization held in Istanbul, Turkey 3 October 1960. Unknown Publisher.

Bond, A. C. and Alan B. Kehlet. "Review, Scope and Recent Results of Project Mercury Research and Development Program." In the Presentations at the IAS 28th Annual Meeting held in New York, New York 25-27 January 1960.

Space and Atmospheric Re-entry Vehicle. A.B. Kehlet, D.F. Hasson, W.W. Petynia. 21 May 1963. Patent No. 3,090,580.

Parachute Glider. A.B. Kehlet. 23 February 1965. Patent No. 3,170,660.

Space Capsule. M.A. Faget, A.J. Meyer, R.G. Chilton, W.S. Blanchard, A.B. Kehlet, J.B. Hammack, and C.C. Johnson. 6 September 1966. Patent No. 3,270,908.

Kehlet, Alan B. "Thermal Protection and Cross-Range problems During Earth Reentry for a Space Transportation System." No Report Number (CASI 19710061282). Downey, CA: North American Rockwell, 1971.

Fuller, Paul N. and Alan B. Kehlet. "U.S. Government and Commercial Space
Transportation." No Report Number (CASI 19920037974). Huntington Beach, CA: McDonnell Douglas Space Systems Co., Rockwell International Corp., 1991.

Kehlet, Alan B., C.R. Carlson, R.P. Dawson. "Should-Cost Technologies." No Report Number (CASI 19920073007). Downey, CA: McDonnell Douglas Space Systems Co., 1992.


Alan B. Kehlet Service Record Card, Alan B. Kehlet Personnel File, Human
Resources Office, Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX.

Alan B. Kehlet. Interview by Loyd S. Swenson, Jr., and Ivan D. Ertal, 26 January 1970, Transcript, Apollo Program Office, Scientific and Technical Information Center, Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX.

Alan Kehlet, "Space Shuttle: Thermal Protection and Cross Range Problems During Earth Reentry for a Space Transportation System," Paper presented at the 22nd International Astronautical Congress; Brussels, Belgium, 20-25 September 1971.

Paul N. Fuller and Alan Kehlet, "U. S. Government and Commercial Space
Transportation," Paper presented at the 42nd Congress of the International Astronautical Federation; Montreal, Canada, 5-11 October 1991.



Education: Illinois-Urbana;Virginia.

Country: USA.

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