Apollo program's Petrone dies at 80

Sept. 1, 2006 at 12:25 PM   |   Comments

PALOS VERDES ESTATES, Calif., Sept. 1 (UPI) -- Rocco Petrone, who helped develop the Saturn rocket for the U.S. Apollo space missions, died at his California home at age 80.

The former Army engineer, who came on loan to the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, later became the director of launch operations at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where he oversaw all phases of the program and was responsible for every spacecraft component used in it, reports The Los Angeles Times.

Petrone died last week at his home in Palos Verdes Estates from complications of heart disease.

Petrone also headed the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. In that role, he led the team that rescued the 1973 Skylab mission after it was damaged during liftoff.

Petrone had advised against the Jan. 28, 1986, launch of the shuttle Challenger, which ended in a disaster, the Times said.

After graduation from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Petrone got his master's degree in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Besides his wife of 50 years, Petrone is survived by four children, a brother, and a half-brother.

Topics: Palos Verdes
© 2006 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
Recommended UPI Stories
Most Popular
Hurricane Katrina nine years later
Latvia boasts world's first net for migrating bats
Apple reportedly delays launch of rumored iWatch
New space debris monitoring facility set for Australia
Type Ia supernovas: the zombies of the cosmos
Trending News