Maxwell W. Hunter Receives the Second
Presentation of The National Space Society's Von Braun Award
(from 1995 National Space Society press release)
WASHINGTON, D.C. The National Space Society (NSS) today announced
that Maxwell W. Hunter of San Carlos, California, is the second recipient
of the Wernher von Braun Memorial Award. It is to be presented in
Cleveland on 20 May 1995. The occasion will be the Society's 14th
annual International Space Development Conference sponsored on its behalf
by the Cuyahoga Valley SPACE society, EXITUS, Inc., the Midwest Space
Development Corporation, and the NASA Lewis Research Center.
Von Braun Memorial Award Committee chairman, Frederick I. Ordway III,
explanted that "The award is being presented to Mr. Hunter on the
basis of a set of characteristics attributable to Von Braun himself.
These, Ordway added, "include a visionary outlook toward space flight,
the ability to promote the vision he extolled, and the capability to
manage and/or work with large teams while instilling among their loyal
members a remarkable sentiment of cohesion and loyalty."
Mr. was selected in recognition of lifetime contributions to the fields of
rockets, missiles and space flight. He was in charge of missile
aerodynamics at Douglas Aircraft during the early development of the Nike
surface-to-air missile, the Sparrow air-to-air missile, the Honest John
artillery rocket, the Genie air-to-air rocket and other systems.
He was the principal designer of the Air Force Thor intermediate range
ballistic missile in the last 1950s, which quickly became the workhorse
civilian Thor-Delta and later Delta launch vehicle. As of May 1995,
227 Deltas have been launched; the last failure occurred in May
1986. Counting from September 1977, there have been two failures in
93 flights, for a 98 percent success achievement. During his Thor
years, he became acquainted with Von Braun whose team was then developing
the competitive Jupiter IRBM. During the Apollo/Saturn years, Hunter
worked on the Saturn S-IV and S-IVB for Von Braun with whom he became
friend and colleague.
Max Hunter exhibited managerial and planning skills in a different arena
during the 106-'s when he served in the newly activated National
Aeronautics and Space Council. There, he helped guide national
decision makers through the heady Apollo years. While on the
Council, he redefined the deep-space exploration program through an
understanding of planetary flight mechanics, especially in recognition of
the role of planetary gravity fields in reducing the rocket impulse
required. He was the first to recognize the tremendous impact of
gravity boost given by the giant planets, especially Jupiter, to
spacecraft following escape trajectories out of the Solar System, on out
of the ecliptic missions, and approaching closely to the Sun.
Back in 1962, President Kennedy asked the Council to make suggestions for
a speech he was going to give at Rice University in Houston that
September. It was Max Hunter who proposed the term "spacefaring
nation." The proposal filtered its way up to the President, who
liked it, and inserted into the ringing speech "We choose to go the
Moon in this decade..."
Late in the decade, Hunter expanded on earlier achievements as designer
and advocate of advanced space systems, gas-core nuclear engines, the
liquid fluorine high-performance Starlet vehicle, the Starclipper
(precursor of the shuttle), and what eventually became the Hubble Space
Despite his outstanding accomplishments, Hunter's most important
achievement may lie in the future. It is as originator and dogged
proponent of the single-stage-to-orbit launch system that may gain his
greatest fame. His 1988 paper, the SSX, SpaceShipExperimental led
directly to the development of the DC-X and its potential to reduce launch
cost by two orders of magnitude.
The National Space Societ5y is a nationwide grassroots organization of
some 25,000 and publishes Ad Astra magazine. Mr. Hunter has long
been an active member of the Society and served for several years on the
board of directors of its predecessor, the National Space Institute.