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Thursday, August 7, 2014

Mystery History -- Solved!

This one was a tough call with the all the guesses, some of which nibbled around the edges but none of which got the location or the specific project correct. Ron was the first to mention a space capsule, so I'm declaring him the winner.

In the 1960 photo above, Art Center College of Design instructor John Coleman (standing, left) advises environmental design students as they work on the wooden framework for a specific portion of the interior space capsule design that would be submitted by General Electric to NASA the following year for the Apollo program

Here's the photo before I retouched it (badly).

At the height of the Cold War and the Space Race, three corporations -- General Electric, General Dynamics and The Martin Company -- were invited by NASA to submit proposals for the design of an advanced manned spacecraft for the Apollo program, including a space capsule for launch and reentry. 

One of the challenges for GE was to design a practical, efficient and reasonable spatial relationship between the pilot astronaut and the computer inside the space capsule.

GE turned to Art Center College of Design and the bright young minds of the environmental design students there. It was the college's first sponsored project.

George Beck, industrial design manager for GE's Light Military Electronics Department, explained the issues to the students and Coleman:

Students getting down to business:

The unveiling of the completed project, with George Beck sitting in the pilot's seat:

After NASA carefully reviewed the three proposals and praised each of them, the contract was awarded to The Martin Company. 

Many thanks to Art Center College of Design.


  1. I was totally off the mark... I love this mystery history. So wish my dad was alive to show it too. He was a Cal Tech educated GE man.

    Was Art Center in Pasadena at that time? I think you might of answered that in a previous Mystery History

    congrats Ron

  2. I love these photos.

  3. You are being very generous to declare me the winner, although I don't know how anyone could have known it was Art Center. At first I thought it might be Cal Tech, but I thought JPL made more sense. Mercury? I had no idea. Thought it could be Gemini. What do I know! Thanks. RR

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  5. I'm intrigued by Davis' suggestion the "Rocket Man" was originally written by Rick Nelson. I haven't been able to find any references to that, although someone named Craig Nelson wrote a book about the astronauts called "Rocket Men." The other day, Tracy Nelson, Rick's daughter, went on a little rant on Facebook about how her dad did not like to be referred to as "Ricky" and was rarely referred to that way in the family or among friends, with a few exceptions.

  6. Mister Earl - I was just being totally off-the-wall, which happens occasionally. It's just that the kid seated on the stool taking notes reminded me of Rick Nelson and the imagination took over from there. There is no truth whatsoever contained in my comment. What, you guys do this seriously??

  7. Ron - are you any relation to the Rosens of Rosemont Ave? I was their neighbor growing up. Loved hearing Nathaniel playing his cello with the windows open!!

  8. No relation to the Rosens of Rosemont. I thought maybe you were being off the wall, but you never know. I like to trace the history of music, songs. The guy does look like Rick Nelson.

  9. Totally off the subject, but I worked for David Nelson for some years and I can confirm that, according to him, Rick didn't like to be called Ricky.

    Wonderful photos, Ann. This is great stuff.