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Lovelace, Alan M
Credit: via Richard Martin
American materials scientist. Father of the commercial Atlas. Without his vision, leadership, and prestige the commercial Atlas would never have happened.

Born: 1929-09-04. Died: 2018-04-18. Birth Place: Saint Petersburg, Florida.

At General Dynamics, revitalized the Atlas launch vehicle line by investing in and marketing the commercial Atlas versions to the government and private users. Spurred development of the Atlas I, II, III, and V.

Official NASA Biography

Dr. Alan M. Lovelace was born in St. Petersburg, Florida, on September 4, 1929. He was educated at the University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, receiving a Bachelor of Science Degree in Chemistry in 1951, a Master of Science Degree in Organic Chemistry in 1952, and a Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Organic Chemistry in 1954. In 1952, he married Kathryn Logan of Bridgeport, Connecticut, and they had two children--William and Denise.

Dr. Lovelace served in the United States Air Force from 1954 to 1956. Thereafter, Dr. Lovelace began work as a government scientist at the Air Force Materials Laboratory (AFML), Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Dayton, Ohio. There he initially did work in the field of fluorine and polymer chemistry. These efforts on fluorocarbon and inorganic polymers extended the useful temperature range over which polymers could be used.

In January 1964, he was named as Chief Scientist of the Air Force Materials Laboratory. In this role, he worked to realize the potential of very high strength, very light weight fibers being consolidated in a new class of composites.

In 1967, he was named Director of the Air Force Materials Laboratory, and in October 1972, he was named Director of Science and Technology for the Air Force Systems Command at its Headquarters, Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland. In this role, he provided technical guidance and management policy to eleven Air Force Systems Command Laboratories, five Liaison Officers, and the Command's European Office of Aerospace Research.

In September 1973, he became the Principal Deputy to the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Research and Development. In this role, he advised and assisted the Assistant Secretary in his direction of the entire Air Force Research and Development Program.

In September 1974, Dr. Lovelace left the Department of Defense to become the Associate Administrator of the NASA Office of Aeronautics and Space Technology. As the Associate Administrator for Aeronautics and Space Technology, he was responsible for the management of the research program that will provide the basic science and technology advances that will be required for future military and civil aircraft, and the systems to exploit and explore space.

During his career Dr. Lovelace became a Fellow in the American Astronautical Society; he also became a member of the National Academy of Engineering, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the Air Force Association, Sigma Xi, and Phi Beta Kappa.

With the departure of George Low as NASA Deputy Administrator in June 1976, Dr. Lovelace became Deputy Administrator, serving until July 1981. He retired from NASA to accept a position as Corporate Vice President--Science and Engineering with the General Dynamics Corporation at St. Louis, Missouri. By 1985 he had become Corporate Vice President and General Manager of General Dynamics' Space System Division. Later he became chief architect and head of the corporation's commercial space launch program. In 1991 he was named Senior Vice President for Space Policy and Technology at General Dynamics, operating from an office in Washington, D.C., as well chairman of the company's Commercial Launch Services subsidiary.


Melbourne - Alan Mathieson Lovelace, 88, died April 18, 2018 at Autumn House assisted living facility in Melbourne, FL, following declining health. He is survived by his son, William Lovelace, daughter-in-law Susanne Lovelace; his daughter, Denise Lovelace; two grandchildren, and many friends. Alan was born September 4, 1929 in St. Petersburg, FL. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from the University of Florida in 1951 and then completed his Doctor of Philosophy in 1954 in Organic Chemistry. He met his wife of over 50 years, Kathie Lovelace, at the University of Florida and they were married in 1952. Supported by his wife and family, Alan had a long and distinguished career in both the public and private sectors. While working for DuPont in Kinston, NC, he was called for service in the Air Force in 1954 as a Second Lieutenant. He was assigned to the polymer branch at the Air Force Materials Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio where he was instrumental in starting up the laboratory and eventually becoming the Director. In his next role, Alan moved his family to Maryland to lead the laboratories of Air Force Systems Command in VA and then advanced to the Pentagon as Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Air Force Office of Research and Development. In 1974 he transferred to NASA as the Technology Associate Administrator for the office of Aeronautics and Space Technology, and this led to a role as Deputy Administrator of NASA from 1976 to 1981. For a critical period between U.S. Presidential administrations, he was the Acting Administrator for NASA during the first Shuttle launch STS1. For his guidance during this period, he received the Presidential Citizens Medal in June of 1981 from Ronald Reagan. In 1981, Alan left NASA to join General Dynamics where he lead the Space Systems Division in San Diego to develop the Atlas as a commercial launch vehicle. Alan and Kathie retired in 1996 and returned to their Florida roots, living on Merritt Island, traveling throughout the world with their friends, and enjoying time with their grandchildren. After Kathie passed away in 2007, Alan found love briefly again, marrying Janet Bonder of Melbourne in 2011. Alan and Janet enjoyed the company of Janet's daughters, took art classes and enjoyed socializing with friends in the mountains of North Carolina until Janet's passing in 2013.

Country: USA. Agency: USAF. Bibliography: 535, 5716.
Photo Gallery

Credit: NASA

1929 September 4 - .
2018 April 18 - .

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