skip to main content

COVID-19 Information and Guidance

The Astronaut Maker: How One Mysterious Engineer Ran Human Spaceflight for a Generation

Considered by many to be one of the most influential figures in NASA’s history, former Johnson Space Center director George W.S. Abbey served a key role in shaping the Apollo lunar missions and the space shuttle program. Over an almost 40-year career, Abbey rose through the agency’s ranks from his start in 1964 as a low-level engineer to become the director of flight operations for the Johnson Space Center and eventually the center’s director. Yet his contributions to human spaceflight remain largely unknown to the general public.

The Baker Institute Space Policy Program hosted a conversation with Abbey, now the institute’s senior space policy fellow, and author Michael Cassutt, whose new biography “The Astronaut Maker: How One Mysterious Engineer Ran Human Spaceflight for a Generation” chronicles Abbey’s rise from Air Force pilot to NASA power broker at the highest levels.

Follow @BakerInstitute on Twitter and join the conversation online with #BakerSpace.





6:00 p.m. — Presentation
7:00 p.m. — Reception

Featured Speakers

George W.S. Abbey is the senior fellow in space policy at the Baker Institute. From 1996 to 2001, he served as the director of NASA Johnson Space Center. Prior to being assigned as an Air Force captain to NASA’s Apollo Program at the Manned Spacecraft Center in 1964, he served in the Air Force Research and Development Command and was involved in the early Air Force manned space activities, including the Dyna-Soar Program. In 1976, he was named director of flight operations, where he was responsible for operational planning and management of flight crew and flight control activities for all manned spaceflight missions. He was a member of the operations team presented with the Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award, in 1970 by President Richard Nixon for its role in support of the Apollo 13 Mission.

Michael Cassutt is an American television producer, screenwriter and author. His notable TV work includes producing and/or writing for “The Outer Limits,” “Eerie, Indiana,” “Beverly Hills, 90210” and “The Twilight Zone.” In addition to his work in television, Cassutt has written more than 30 short stories and novels, predominantly in the genres of science fiction and fantasy, as well as various nonfiction works on science and space. Most recently, Cassutt authored “The Astronaut Maker: How One Mysterious Engineer Ran Human Spaceflight for a Generation” (Chicago Review Press, 2018), a biography of NASA administrator George W.S. Abbey.




Mon, March 4, 2019
6 p.m. - 8 p.m.
(GMT-0500) US/Central

Event has ended


James A. Baker III Hall, Rice University
Rice University's Baker Institute
Houston, Texas 77005

Kelly International Conference Facility