The World's Forum for Aerospace Leadership

  • Donate
  • Press Room
  • Renew
  • View Cart
American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

    CONTACT: John Blacksten


    AIAA Mourns the Passing of George E. Mueller
    Honorary Fellow, Past President, and Former Associate Administrator of the
    NASA Office of Manned Space Flight

    October 19, 2015 – Reston, Va. – October 15, 2015 – Reston, Va. – The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) mourns the death of George E. Mueller, AIAA Honorary Fellow, past president of AIAA, former associate administrator of NASA’s Office of Manned Space Flight, former president and chairman of the System Development Corporation, and former CEO of Kistler Aerospace, on October 12, 2015. Mueller was 97 years old.

    “George Mueller’s leadership and vision for the Apollo project contributed much to one of humanity’s greatest success stories – the Apollo 11 lunar landing,” said AIAA President Jim Albaugh. “He was dedicated to the idea that the landing could be achieved, and he laid the organizational groundwork within NASA to make it happen, overcoming both time and budget pressures, and inspiring those around him to give their best efforts at all times. We mourn his loss, but honor him for his tireless efforts to ensure that the Apollo project was successful, and recognize him for all of his contributions to AIAA and the aerospace community.”

    Mueller entered the aerospace profession during the early days of World War II, working for Bell Laboratories where he was involved with the development of airborne radar technology. Mueller left Bell Laboratories in 1946 to take a professorship at The Ohio State University (OSU), where he established a vacuum tube laboratory and headed up the university’s communication engineering group. Mueller also taught electrical engineering and systems engineering at OSU, while working on his doctorate in physics, which he obtained in 1951.

    In 1953, Mueller took a sabbatical from OSU to perform work for the Ramo-Wooldridge Corporation (now part of TRW Corporation), where he was involved with radar designs for the Titan missile. Mueller joined Ramo-Wooldridge full-time in 1957 to direct the firm’s Electronic Laboratories. It was during his time at Ramo-Wooldridge that Mueller became convinced that “all-up testing,” or testing the entire system at once and not in phases, was essential to missile and rocket development. Mueller put this theory to work in 1963 when he joined NASA to oversee the Apollo project.

    During his time on the Apollo project, Mueller instituted several reforms to NASA’s internal structures, establishing the Office of Manned Space Flight (OMSF), and consolidating three of NASA’s centers: the Manned Spacecraft Center (now the Johnson Space Center), the Marshall Space Flight Center, and the Kennedy Space Center, under the OMSF – allowing for more streamlined operations that took into account each center’s particular competency and strengths. Mueller also employed his “all-up” theory reducing cost overruns and delays in the project created by continual test flights. Engineers and project officials greeted Mueller’s proposal with skepticism, but later embraced it making it the testing standard for the remainder of the program. In 1965, Mueller established the Apollo Applications Program (AAP) to find ways to use Apollo technology and lessons-learned to advance the state of the U.S. space program – producing Skylab. Mueller was also a staunch advocate for a reusable space transportation system, and some experts considered him to be the “father” of the space shuttle program.

    Mueller left NASA in 1969 to return to private industry, becoming chairman and president of the System Development Corporation (SDC) in 1971. He stayed at SDC until 1984 when he retired. Mueller returned to work in 1996 as the CEO of Kistler Aerospace (later Kistler Rocketplane), where he worked until 2004.

    Mueller’s various honors included the 2011 National Air and Space Museum Trophy, the 2002 National Space Trophy, the 1986 AIAA Elmer Sperry Award, the 1983 AIAA Goddard Astronautics Award, and the 1971 National Medal of Science in Engineering.


    About AIAA
    AIAA is the largest aerospace professional society in the world, serving a diverse range of more than 30,000 individual members from 88 countries, and 95 corporate members. AIAA members help make the world safer, more connected, more accessible, and more prosperous. For more information, visit, or follow us on Twitter @AIAA.



    American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
    1801 Alexander Bell Drive, Suite 500, Reston, VA 20191-4344
    Phone: 703.264.7558 Fax: 703.264.7551