Research for Apollo

Lenoir was awarded his doctorate in 1965. He became a Ford Post-doctoral Fellow and an Assistant Professor of electrical engineering at MIT, and continued teaching and researching as before. His work now included teaching electromagnetic and systems theories, as well as carrying out absorbing research into remote sensing of the Earth and its atmosphere. At the same time, he took on a role as a researcher and investigator in several Apollo Applications experiments, which included work on developing experiments intended for use on what became the Skylab programme. Later, following his selection as a scientist-astronaut, he would continue with this work as a co-investigator with his colleagues at MIT and JPL.

For two years, starting in 1965, Lenoir carried out graduate research with MIT's Research Laboratory of Electronics (RLE) under Professor Barrett, who had pioneered the microwave spectra measurement of high-temperature diatomic molecules. Barrett had probed the atmosphere of Venus using theoretical microwave radiation studies, and was the first to recognise that the planet's thick carbon dioxide atmosphere contributed to its extremely high temperatures. He would also design microwave detection equipment used on NASA's unmanned Mariner missions, which conducted flybys of Venus and Mars.

As part of his research with RLE, Lenoir helped design a 60-gigahertz atmospheric sensing microwave receiver to remotely sense the temperature profile of Earth's atmosphere at different altitudes.13 The instrument package was deployed on board a high-altitude helium balloon launched from the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Palestine, Texas. As a result of these experiments, Lenoir's research group, as well as groups led by former students such as Dr. Joe Waters at JPL, developed new instruments that were used in NASA's Nimbus series of advanced global meteorological satellites, forerunners of the Landsat satellites and today's weather forecasting system, operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

How did he come to apply to NASA? "In the fall of 1966, I decided that I needed to broaden my experience base by spending some time - several years - somewhere other than MIT. I had been at MIT for the entire ten years of my professional life. I answered inquiries from the University of Michigan, the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, and Drexel University. Later that year I came across a small notice in Science magazine that NASA was accepting applications for scientist-astronauts. Given my field, this seemed to make a lot of sense, so I returned the small clipping with my name and address. Like magic, this small clipping became a one-inch thick stack of paperwork to fill out and return. Then, the physical; the interview in Houston; the phone call from Alan Shepard.''

JOHN A. LLEWELLYN

At the time of his selection by NASA, Dr. Tony Llewellyn was asked what he hoped to achieve as a scientist-astronaut. His response was typically straightforward but eloquent. ''My ambition is simply to make a successful flight, do some good experiments and get some good first-class science out of it. You know, Isaac Newton said he had walked on the edge of the sea picking up pebbles. I think that all of science has the chance to walk on the edge of a brand-new sea - space - and pick up the pebbles.''

Most people rightfully envisage Wales as an ancient country steeped in Celtic culture and bearing a rich heritage, although the spectacular green hills and valleys of South Wales still bear the scars of an industrial past, when massive excavation and mining yielded millions of tons of coal and iron. Situated in the county of South Glamorgan is the sprawling city of Cardiff, since 1955 the capital of Wales. In its boom years, Cardiff had been the largest coal-exporting port in the world, and this thriving industry was reflected in an expanding and rapidly growing population.

In the early 1930s, when Tony Llewellyn was born, the population of Cardiff stood at just under a quarter of a million, and the once-great industrial city was in the merciless grip of the Depression. Despite this, Cardiff remained resolute, and was an exciting, fiercely proud place for any youngster to live in. The massive working docks on the River Taff were the ultimate draw for any young boy's curiosity, as were the brightly-painted buses and electric double-decker trams that made their way past

John A. (Tony) Llewellyn, PhD.

throngs of people down busy Cardiff streets, with its multitude of narrow, covered Victorian arcades. For the older boys there was also the sheer joy of crawling over such ancient local sites as Cardiff Castle, in the central part of the city - a sprawling gothic structure built by the Normans in the eleventh century - and the magnificent "Red Castle'', Castell Coch, just five miles north of town by bus.

Tony Llewellyn was born in Cardiff, and he would later achieve a deal of minor renown in Britain when, at the age of thirty-four, he was selected as one of the first two NASA astronauts born outside the United States. He was born John Anthony Llewellyn on 22 April 1933 to John and Morella (nee Roberts) Llewellyn. Llewellyn is a common enough surname in southern Wales, and is perhaps best attached to the famed writer Richard Llewellyn, whose richly evocative book about the travails of coal mining communities in the area, How Green Was My Valley, became a classic of modern literature, as well as a celebrated Hollywood movie. Tony Llewellyn has often been asked if he is related to the writer, but he has never established a family link.14

His father, John Llewellyn, was an engineer who worked with the large Guest, Keen and Baldwin Iron and Steel company, situated near the docks, which was one of the town's major employers. He imbued in his young son a fascination with science and mechanics, and both parents saw to it that Tony and his younger brothers David and Roger took an active interest in their education. He would begin that education at the Adamstown Public School on System Street, and today fondly recalls an energetic curiosity, being ''always interested in the balls and springs of the universe; how everything worked.''

Was this article helpful?

0 0
Courage Conqueror

Courage Conqueror

Do You Want To Be More Courageous, Push Negativity Out Of Your Life, and Have More Self Belief? Learn How, In Just A Very Short Time, You Can Put an END To Your Lack Of Bravery And Feel More In Control Of Your Life Than Ever Before... GUARANTEED.

Get My Free Ebook


Post a comment