Status: Deceased; Active 1958-1966. Born: 1924-10-09. Died: 1993-03-17. Spaceflights: 1 . Total time in space: 0.0073 days. Birth Place: Madison, Maine.
Joined Army Air Corps, flying transports in World War II and combat missions in the Korean War. Studied mechanical engineering at the University of Maine, receiving a BE in 1951. BS in aeronautical engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology in 1958. Selected as X-15 pilot in 1958, he made the most number of X-15 flights (34) and obtained astronaut wings on an 86.9 km flight. Left the X-15 program in 1966 to become Commander, Air Force Flight Test Center, Edwards AFB; Commander, Air Force Test and Evaluation Center, Kirtland AFB; Vice Commander, AF Systems Command, Wright Patterson AFB.
Official USAF Biography
MAJOR GENERAL ROBERT A. RUSHWORTH
Retired June 1, 1981, Died March 18, 1993
Major General Robert A. Rushworth is vice commander of the Aeronautical Systems Division, Air Force Systems Command, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.
General Rushworth was born in 1924, in Madison, Maine, where he graduated from Madison Memorial High School in 1942. He graduated from Hebron Academy, Maine, in 1943, and received bachelor of science degrees in mechanical engineering from the University of Maine in 1951 and in aeronautical engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in 1954. He graduated from the National War College at Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, D.C., in 1967.
In June 1943 he enlisted in the Army and entered the aviation cadet program. He was commissioned a second lieutenant and received his pilot wings in September 1944. In February 1945 he was assigned to the 12th Combat Cargo Squadron in the China-Burma-India theater of operations, where he flew C-47 Skytrain transport combat missions from India throughout the Burma Campaign and C-46 Commandos across the Himalaya Mountain range known as the "Hump" to Shanghai and Peking. After release from active duty in January 1946, he became a member of the Reserve and entered the University of Maine.
General Rushworth was recalled to active duty in February 1951 during the Korean War, and was assigned as an F-80C Shooting Star pilot with the 49th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron at Dow Air Force Base, Maine. In August 1953 he enrolled in the Air Force Institute of Technology as an aeronautical engineering student. After graduation in September 1954, he remained at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and was assigned to the Directorate of Flight and All-Weather Testing at Wright Air Development Center where he specialized in the development and flight testing of automatic flight control systems.
In July 1956 General Rushworth was sent to Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., to attend the then Air Force Experimental Flight Test Pilot School. After graduation in January 1957, he was assigned to the Air Force Flight Test Center, also at Edwards, as an experimental flight test officer in its Fighter Operations Branch; later as operations officer in the Manned Spacecraft Operations Branch; and in July 1965 became assistant director, flight test operations.
During this period he test-flew F-101 Voodoos, TF-102 Delta Daggers, F-104 Starfighters, F-105 Thunderchiefs, F-106 Delta Darts, other jet fighters and the X-15 rocket research aircraft. He flew the X-15, the world's fastest and highest-flying winged aircraft, a record 34 times. General Rushworth was the second Air Force X-15 pilot to attain the astronaut rating then awarded only to military pilots for flights 50 or more miles high. Later he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for an emergency recovery of the X-15 after premature extension of the nose gear at near Mach 5 speeds, and the Legion of Merit for overall accomplishments in the national interest of initial space flights.
After graduation from the National War College in August 1967, General Rushworth attended F-4 Phantom combat crew training. In March 1968 he was sent to Cam Ranh Bay Air Base, Republic of Vietnam, where he was assistant deputy commander for operations with the 12th Tactical Fighter Wing and flew 189 combat missions.
From April 1969 to January 1971, he was program director of the AGM-65 Maverick program and in February 1971 became commander of the newly organized 4950th Test Wing, Aeronautical Systems Division at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
General Rushworth served as inspector general, Air Force Systems Command, Andrews Air Force Base, Md., from May 1973 to February 1974. He then returned to the Air Force Flight Test Center as commander until November 1975 when he was selected to command the Air Force Test and Evaluation Center at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M. General Rushworth assumed his present duties in October 1976.
He is rated a command pilot astronaut and has more than 6,500 flying hours in more than 50 different aircraft. His military decorations and awards include the Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross with two oak leaf clusters, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal with 10 oak leaf clusters and Air Force Commendation Medal. He also wears the National Aeronautical and Space Administration Exceptional Service Medal.
General Rushworth was promoted to major general Aug. 1, 1975, with date of rank Nov. 1, 1972.
(Current as of August 1980)
Selected: 1958. Departed Date: 1966-07-01. Cause of Death: Died of natural causes, Camarillo, California.. Marital Status: Married. Children: One child. Education: Maine;AFIT;Edwards.
In a US Air Force briefing a preliminary astronaut selection for the Man-In-Space Soonest project is made. The list consisted of USAF test pilots Robert Walker, Scott Crossfield, Neil Armstrong, Robert Rushworth, William Bridgeman, Alvin White, Iven Kincheloe, Robert White, and Jack McKay. This was the first preliminary astronaut selection in history. The project was cancelled when NASA was formed in and took responsibility for all manned space flight on 1 August 1958. Prospective contractors estimated it would take from 12 to 30 months to put the first American in orbit. In retrospect the orbital flight portion of NASA's Mercury program was paced by the availability of the Atlas booster. Therefore it is unlikely Man-in-Space-Soonest would have put an American in orbit any earlier than Mercury.
American test pilot 1958 - 1966. Selected as X-15 pilot in 1958, he made the most X-15 flights and obtained astronaut wings on X-15 Flight 87. Flew 187 combat missions in Vietnam. 1 suborbital spaceflight on the X-15, 0.2 hours in space. Died of natural causes, Camarillo, California.