AIAA Mourns the Loss of AIAA Honorary Fellow Arnold Aldrich Written 1 June 2020

Arnold D. Aldrich, Former NASA Director, National Space Transportation System (Space Shuttle Program) and Associate Administrator for Space Systems Development

June 1, 2020 – Reston, Va. – The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) mourns the loss of AIAA Honorary Fellow Arnold D. Aldrich, whose 35-year NASA career encompassed the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, and Space Shuttle missions. Aldrich passed away on 28 May 2020 after a brief battle with cancer. He was 83.

Aldrich served as the Skylab deputy program manager, Apollo Spacecraft Program Office Deputy Manager during the Apollo Soyuz Test Project, and Orbiter Project Manager during development of Space Shuttles Discovery and Atlantis.

Following the Challenger accident, Aldrich was appointed director of the Space Shuttle Program where he led recovery and return-to-flight efforts. He then served as NASA Associate Administrator for Aeronautics, Exploration and Technology and, later, for Space Systems Development. He also led initiatives with Russia leading to the incorporation of the Russian Soyuz spacecraft as the on-orbit emergency rescue vehicle for the International Space Station.

“Arnold Aldrich’s significant contributions to aerospace are in evidence today—from the historic launch on 30 May to our future plans to go to Mars,” said Dan Dumbacher, AIAA executive director. “His leadership and dedication to the space mission didn’t stop when he retired. He mentored young aerospace program managers and was active in space-related initiatives. He inspired many and will be missed.”

Aldrich joined AIAA in 1976 and became an Honorary Fellow in 2012. He received AIAA’s Distinguished Service Award in 2010 “for over three decades of continuous, dedicated service to the Institute as a strong supporter and tireless participant, and for significant contributions and leadership to the aerospace profession.

He also received AIAA’s International Cooperation Award in 1996 “for significant and continuing contributions to the cooperative relationship between Russia and the United States, both during the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project and the International Space Station programs.”

Aldrich won the Space Systems Award for Technical Excellence in 1989 “for your diligent safety review and extensive system-wide technical upgrade for improved mission success and your commitment to getting the NSTS back in operation as demonstrated by the successful return to space and landing of STS-26.”

Aldrich joined NASA in 1959, retiring in 1994. He then joined Lockheed Missiles and Space Company in 1994 as vice president and retired in 2007. 
He was recognized with additional awards, including the Presidential Rank of Distinguished Executive, Presidential Rank of Meritorious Executive (twice), NASA Distinguished Service Medal (three times), Northeastern University Outstanding Alumni Award, Arthur S. Fleming Award, NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, VFW Aviation and Space Award, and NASA Exceptional Service Award. He was a member of the International Academy of Astronautics and a member of the National Academy Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board. Aldrich began his career after earning a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Northeastern University in 1959. 

Media contact: Michele McDonald,, 703.264.7542

About AIAA
The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) is the world’s largest aerospace technical society. With nearly 30,000 individual members from 91 countries, and 100 corporate members, AIAA brings together industry, academia, and government to advance engineering and science in aviation, space, and defense. For more information, visit, or follow AIAA on TwitterFacebook, or LinkedIn.