FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Engineer Who Designed Key Component of Apollo Lunar Lander to Speak at Challenger Space Center Arizona
Peoria, AZ, January 24, 2014 – The public is invited to attend a special presentation entitled “Apollo Program Remembrances” by guest speaker Robert Benoit at Challenger Space Center Arizona on Saturday, February 1, 2014, beginning at 1:00 p.m. in the Steele Foundation Rotunda.
The presentation coincides with NASA’s Day of Remembrance, also set for February 1. The annual NASA commemoration honors the memories of the astronauts lost in the Apollo 1, Challenger, and Columbia accidents.
“Apollo Program Remembrances” is a signature event taking place during the Arizona Scitech Festival, which celebrates our state's leadership in science, technology and innovation.
Mr. Benoit’s presentation is included with paid general admission to Challenger Space Center. Visitors are encouraged to tour the Center before or after the talk. General admission is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors (55+) and military, $6 for students (3-12), free for children ages 2 and under and Challenger Members. The Center is open from 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Monday–Saturday.
Robert Benoit was an engineer with Grumman Aerospace, the company that served as chief contractor on the Apollo Lunar Module that took astronauts to the surface of the moon. He was a Cognitive Engineer on the Thrust Translation Control Assembly (TTCA), which he designed, and the Attitude Control Assembly (ACA), designed by Honeywell. As a Cognitive Engineer, Benoit had complete responsibility for the design, testing, vehicle integration, and mission support of both controllers.
The importance of the TTCA cannot be overstated. It was this controller that enabled the Apollo lunar landings to be successful, as the necessity for manual control in the final stages of landing was critical. Both of these pieces of equipment were used by astronauts to manually land the Lunar Module, as well as during the ascent and docking with the Command Module for return to the Earth.
During the very first moon landing in 1969, Apollo 11 spacecraft commander Neil Armstrong had his hand on the TTCA when he took manual control of the Lunar Module as it was headed for a boulder-strewn area. Armstrong and fellow astronaut Buzz Aldrin landed safely on the moon with less than 30 seconds of fuel left.
Now retired from engineering, Benoit has found an encore career as a teacher, where he strives to inspire students by sharing his compelling story of overcoming severe poverty to graduate from college and work in the aerospace industry – something he had dreamed of since childhood.