Dr. Maxime Faget, spacecraft designer, dies

MercuryDr. Maxime “Max” Faget, one of NASA’s original employees dating back to the Space Task Group, dies at the age of 83. In 1946, he joined Langley Research Center where he contributed to pilotless aircraft research and became head of the center’s performance aerodynamics division. In 1958, he designed the original Mercury space capsule as a member of NASA’s Space Task Group, charged with finding ways to help America lead in the cold-war-era space race. He was one of the chief architects of the basic mission design for the Apollo lunar program. He was responsible for designing or contributing to the design of every U.S. manned spacecraft from Mercury through the shuttle, and retired from NASA in 1981 following the second flight of the shuttle Columbia. In 1982, he was a founding member of Space Industries, a company which designed experiments which were flown aboard the shuttle. He held patents on the Mercury capsule itself, as well as the vehicle’s escape tower and “survival couch.” He is survived by four children and their families.