Born in Old Forge, Pennsylvania on November 27, 1936, Glynn S. Lunney grew up with a fascination for flight. Focusing that interest while entering college, Lunney recalled studying aeronautics because "I wanted to work in the field of flight which meant aircraft since the field known today as aerospace was virtually non-existent."
After obtaining a degree in aeronautical engineering from the University of Detroit in 1958, Lunney began his career with NASA upon entering the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautic's (NACA) cooperative training program at the Lewis Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio. There, he worked with a group that used a B-57 bomber to launch small rockets high into the atmosphere to make heat transfer measurements.
Lunney first became aware of the work being done in manned space flight after viewing a preliminary drawing of what later became the Mercury spacecraft. When NACA became the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in 1958, Lunney worked side by side with engineers at NASA's Langley Research Center, in the area of manned space flight, as part of the newly formed Space Task Group (STG) which he joined in September 1959 as an aeronautical research engineer.
 One of Lunney's first duties with the STG involved working in the Control Center Simulation Group. Here he was responsible for the preparation and operation of simulated missions used to train flight controllers in the manned Mercury program.
After moving to Houston, Lunney began work at the newly organized Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC), becoming head of the Mission Logic and Computer Hardware Section of the Flight Operations Division (FOD), where he was responsible for establishing and coordinating the FOD flight dynamics requirements in the new Mission Control Center (MCC). One of Lunney's key roles at Houston was in helping establish the MCC mission rules for all flight controllers and crews. The philosophy behind these rules is sound enough that they remain in use at today's mission control center.
Lunney continued taking on progressively larger roles and responsibilities within NASA, including chief of the Flight Dynamics Branch at the Flight Control Division. In 1968, he became chief of the Flight Director's Office, a role he assumed throughout most of the Apollo lunar program. While in this role, Lunney's duties grew to supervise all other flight directors and manage the training of flight control teams. From 1970 to 1972, Lunney also acted as technical assistant for Apollo to the director of Flight Operations.
Lunney became involved in NASA's first cooperative space venture with the former Soviet Union. In 1972, he became manager of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (ASTP) where he oversaw the planning, coordination, and integration of all U.S. technical and operational details, as well as the supervision and coordination of the contracts and other elements supporting the program. When Lunney was promoted to manager of the Apollo Spacecraft Office in 1973, he continued with his ASTP responsibilities. Working with the Soviet Union required a great deal of skill in diplomacy and management; under Lunney's direction, the ASTP mission was launched in 1975 and proved to be an international success.
During his long and distinguished career with NASA, Lunney served in a variety of different positions. In 1975, he became manager of the Shuttle Payload Integration and Development Program. During this time, he also served two appointments at NASA Headquarters: from 1976 to 1977 he served as deputy associate administrator for Space  Flight and from 1979 to 1980 he became acting associate administrator for Space Transportation Operations. From 1981 to 1985, Lunney returned to Houston where he became manager of the National Space Transportation System program where he oversaw all Shuttle vehicle systems engineering, design, and integration.
In 1985, Lunney retired from NASA and began work for Rockwell International. After the United Space Alliance (USA) formed in 1995 as NASA's prime contractor for all Space Shuttle operations, Lunney became vice president and program manager for USA in Houston in support of NASA's Space Flight Operations contract.
 Editor's note: The following are edited excerpts from two separate interviews conducted with Glynn S. Lunney. Interview #1 was conducted on February 8, 1999, by Carol Butler and assisted by Summer Chick Bergen and Kevin Rusnak. Interview #2 was conducted on February 26, 1999, by Summer Chick Bergen and Kevin Rusnak. Both interviews were conducted as part of the Johnson Space Center Oral History Project.
You mentioned. . . that one of the Saturn V missions, in fact, the one right before Apollo 8, had experienced a variety of difficulties.
When the decision was made for Apollo 8 and you were going to use the Saturn V again, did you have any concerns about it?
We did, but we talked about this pogo thing that was causing one engine to shut down, and then the mixed wiring caused another engine to shut down also, and there was a good fix for the center engine just by shutting it down early. The engine testing had gone well. Once we were getting to the point of saying we were going to put people on board, to light the thing and fire it, we felt that since we're taking all the risks, we might as well try to get the best gain that we possibly can from it. You could have used the Saturn V to do an Earth orbital flight, but the rocket was oversized for that, and you wouldn't have obtained a full, complete test of it. As a result, we began to adopt the attitude of going for the mission that the rocket was designed for and take it out to the Moon, which was done on Apollo 8. . . So once we got over the initial problems that we had on 502 [Apollo 6], the unmanned flight, and saw that those things were fixed, it became a matter of getting used to the idea of going to the Moon.
And Apollo 8 was quite successful.
Apollo 8 was great. . . Apollo 8 was kind of like the door opener for the lunar landing mission. I think all the people, certainly in  the operations team-the flight crews, I think, didn't feel quite the same way, but for us, all that had to be done to plan and execute the Apollo 8 mission says that we really knew how to do that. We kind of opened the door so that the next couple of flights were test flights. Getting to the lunar landing mission was shorter than it otherwise would have been, but we got there with confidence as a result of Apollo 8.
Looking at Apollo 8 and talking about the risk with the rocket, in hindsight, after having seen Apollo 13, there was some risk with the spacecraft to some degree. . .
Oh, yes. There are a lot of-I'm not sure I could recount them all, but there are a lot of times when things happened that, had they happened in other sequences or under other conditions, would have been really bad, but for the most part, the things that happened were manageable, in the sequence we had them in.
Apollo 13, for example, had it blown up while the lunar module was on the lunar surface, we'd have been stranded without a way to get home. So the fact that it blew up when it did didn't leave us very much margin to get home, but at least it was some margin, because we still had a full-up lunar module to live off of. And had it happened 36 or whatever hours later, we'd have been stuck. We'd have lost the mission, we'd have lost the crew, etc. So there's a variety of things that happened where the sequence turned out to be forgiving, if that's the right term, and the program was able to continue without grinding to a halt.
We were lucky. . . if we hadn't gotten to the Moon as quickly as we did and Apollo 13 happened somewhere in the getting ready to go to the Moon stage, it probably would have engendered another debate about, gee, maybe this is too risky and we shouldn't be doing it at all, especially if we'd missed the goal of doing it within the decade. It just would have had a different flavor to the discussion than it did.
Apollo 13 happening after a couple of lunar landing missions made people feel confident that, well, if we fix this problem, we can go back and repeat what we were doing before. All of that  wasn't still in front of us. We already had that under our belt as two successful lunar landing missions. If we did not have that, then the terms of reference for the discussion would have been different.
You mentioned the buildup to the lunar landing of Apollo 11. In between Apollo 8 and Apollo 11 were 9 and 10, both critical missions.
Both critical, and 9 was primarily-although, of course, we flew the command service module-was primarily the first manned test of the lunar module, and so people wanted to put the lunar module through all the paces that they could in lower earth orbit, and that's what the Apollo 9 mission was scheduled to do and did. I didn't work on Apollo 9. I was around the Control Center, but I didn't have a planned shift for Apollo 9 because, by that time, I was occupied with Apollo 10. Apollo 10 was another step like that, although it took the lunar module out of earth orbit and we took it all the way to the Moon, and we did everything short of the actual descent phase and the lunar surface phase.
So we had to do all the navigation things having to do with the two vehicles in orbit. We separated them. We approximated the rendezvous sequence that we would have when we lifted off from the Moon. So we got through all of the phases of flight except the actual descent itself, and then, of course, the traverses that were planned for the surface work.
So we took the lunar module to earth orbit, did everything we could with it, took it to the Moon, did everything we could with it, and then, on the third flight, we were ready to commit it to the landing and it worked fine. It worked fine in terms of most of its performance. There were a few problems that people had to work around in order to be sure that it got to landing.
Go into a little more detail with Apollo 10. . .
Apollo 10 was a great flight. I was the lead flight director on it, and it was, you know, do everything except the landing phase, is basically the way the mission design came down. A number of us  argued at the time that if we're going to go all that way and do all that, then we ought to go land on the Moon. Probably the staunchest advocate of stopping short of the descent phase was Chris Kraft at the time. He wanted us to have the experience of navigating these two vehicles around the Moon, navigating, knowing where they are and how fast they're going so that you can get them back together. Because there were unknowns associated with flying so close to the lunar surface, because the trajectories would be disturbed by concentrations of mass from whatever hit the Moon and it would change the orbit a little bit, and that doesn't sound like much, but you can't afford to miss very much when you're doing what we were doing.
So we debated that for a while, but after a while we all got satis-fied that this was the right thing to do. So we set about to do everything. Tom [Thomas P.] Stafford, Gene [Eugene A.] Cernan, and John [W.] Young were on Apollo 10, and we had a chance to do everything short of the landing on that flight. The flight pretty much went by the book. There were a few funny anomalies where the spacecraft got out of configuration at one time and was kind of spinning up or going in a direction that the crew didn't expect, and Cernan reacted to that, I think, profanely on the air-to-ground, but that got settled down and got the configuration right, and they got that fixed, and things went smoothly from then on.
Basically, Apollo 10 was sort of like the last clearance test for the Apollo 11 lunar landing try, and the flight went well, everything behaved well, and basically the whole system, hardware and people, passed the clearance test that we needed to pass to be sure that we could go land on the Moon on the next one. Adding the descent phase and the lunar surface work was a tremendous amount of additional training, planning, and getting ready for that had to occur with both the flight crews, with the people in the Control Center, and, of course, all the people that plan all these flights.
So in retrospect, Apollo 10 probably could have landed on the Moon, but it was a matter of how much do you bite off at a time, and the way it came out, Apollo 10 was absolutely the right thing to do.
 Apollo 11 had been such a big event and was covered extensively by the media, and then by the time of Apollo 13, there was little coverage. . .
Yes, we could see that, because, of course, it would show up in the numbers of people from the media who would come here to follow the flights. It would take the form of the coverage that would occur in the television, newspapers, or whatever. And we had a sense that the coverage was dropping off, and a number of people-people react to that in different ways. A number of people felt like they were disappointed and it should always be the same as it was, for example, for Apollo 11.
My attitude, I think, all along was there's just something natural in this. I mean, people pay attention to things when they believe that they should pay attention to them. Certainly the first lunar landing mission was something in that category. But then when you repeat it once and you're going back to repeat it again and again-and I say repeat it. From the outside that's what it looks like. From the inside you're doing a lot of different things, but from the outside it looks like you're repeating it, then the interest and the anxiety about it probably goes down a little bit.
So, yes, we sensed and saw the decrease, the indicators of decreased attention to the flights, and my reaction was that's normal, that's human nature, and it wasn't anything to be terribly distressed about, although some people were more stressed, certainly, than I was about it. But I think it was unrealistic to believe that the attention that the world focused on Apollo 11 was going to continue to be focused on every subsequent flight. It just isn't like that. So, while others might have been more upset, I was sort of benign about it. I thought that was normal, and I didn't get too upset about it.
Looking at the attention of the world and the media, some people have mentioned before that they were so caught up in the Apollo program or the other programs that they kind of lost touch with what was going on in the outside world, like with Vietnam. . .
Let me talk about that. Because the '60s were such a tremendously...
...volatile and kind of a tearing apart environment in the United States, and speaking for myself and, I expect, for other people, we experienced all that, I mean, especially Vietnam. So many young men were being killed and wounded. There was a sense that you didn't have any idea of how long it was going to go on, how bad it was going to continue to be, and so on. It was bad. So, you know, as an American or even as a human being, I was affected by all that and all the other things that were going on in America at the time-civil rights, the assassination, marches, the hippie stuff, the drug stuff started to come on the scene.
I remember the convention that was held in Chicago in 1968 where there was so much mayhem, really, on the streets of Chicago-tear gasses and the police hitting people to control the crowds-and the people were expressing their point of view, mostly about Vietnam, that we were on the wrong track and  needed to get out of there. It was a very divisive, terribly emotional kind of issue. That and other things, all those other things were terribly emotional, and we still were in the middle of the cold war. The threat from the Russians was real, and on and on. So there was a lot of emotional things that were upsetting-that's a mild word. I mean, "upsetting" is just too mild to capture it. It was distressing the hell out of people in the country, and it had that kind of effect on me.
The difference, though, that I felt for myself and maybe for those of us in the program was that we had a real focus on significant events in the '60s, and we could do something about it. I think a lot of people were frustrated because, depending on what their interest was or what their main concern was during the '60s, most people couldn't do very much about it. I mean, people protested, and that was, by the way, an activity that eventually had its result, but it was a long time frame, and it was not clear that it was going to have a positive outcome.
So a lot of people, I think, were frustrated because there was nothing that they could personally do to make any of these things that might have been distressing the hell out of them come out okay. I mean, there they were, and events were out of their control, and these things were happening. So there was a lot of loss-of-control frustration, I think, that people had over the things that were going on. And people felt it all to varying degrees, I suppose, but I think most people in America felt it pretty strongly at the time. All these things were occurring. It was a very difficult environment, and it all caused people to be stressed and frustrated, perhaps, at not being able to do anything about it.
At least in our case, and certainly speaking for myself, I always had the sense that we were involved in a significant activity of our time, significant for our country and for our country's position in the world, and we were-kind of-stewards. I was one of the stewards for this program to make it come out right. So we could return to our little island or our little Camelot, or whatever you want to call it, that we had here in the space program and that we especially felt here at the Johnson Space Center, where everybody in this thing worked so closely together. Of course, we worked with  the other Centers, too, but it was keenly felt here at the Johnson Space Center in terms of the teamwork and the comradeship, and the reliance that you had to have on other people. So there was a strong sense of community and people working together and pulling in the same direction and so on.
So the frustration that other people had, perhaps, where they couldn't do anything about this inability to control these events, we at least had a set of events that we had some active control that we could apply to, even on a personal basis. We could personally do our best to assure that our part of this national scene was going to go well. I think it gave us a sense, perhaps, of insulation from the emotional fallout from all these other things that were going on, the frustration, the lack of control, the stressing part of it. They were all real, but for me it was a little different, I think, than for most of the population, because we had this major '60s activity that we were involved in, and we could actually go do something about it every day. We'd go to work every day and work on it, and we could do something about it.
So in that sense, I think, we had an outlet that most people probably didn't have to express their feelings and their sense of what they thought ought to be done about conditions in the country. We had this thing we could do, so it kept us together, and it was a little bit like, when we did our thing, we were on a little island and around us were all these terrible thunderstorms and hurricanes and tornadoes and earthquakes, which were the events of the time, both nationally and internationally, but they were kind of violent, and you almost had the feeling that they were cataclysmic, although it turned out that they weren't.
You got a sense that there was an impending blowup of all these things going on, but we were on this little island with all this going on around us, and yet we were able to focus on the stuff that we had to do, and in that sense it gave us something that we could control personally and something that we could go do and contribute to, and we could do it every day.
So for us it was probably a rock that we could hang onto, and it did mitigate, to some extent, at least for me personally, the frustration in the sense of out-of-controlness that most other people  must have been suffering from. But it was very real. It was very real and very painful. No matter what point of view anybody would represent on a given subject, it had to be painful for everybody that was in America-maybe not everybody, but everybody who wanted the country to do well and come through this stuff. It was very painful for people. It was very distressing. And they're mild words. I think what they were feeling was a lot stronger than that, and there were many points of view on almost every subject.
But we had our island and our rock that we could go back to, that we could do something about. We felt like we were making our contribution. We could contribute what the program was going to contribute to the country. So it was like a solace of sorts, or a port, or island in the storm that was going on all around us.
So we were in a different condition, I think, than other people in the country, and we benefited from that, I mean, benefited from it in the sense that we had a focus and a way to express ourselves that was constructive.
I think it did make a difference. I have found in my research that after the Apollo 8 mission, a woman sent in a telegram saying, "Thank you for saving 1968."
Yes. 1968 was a violent, difficult year. It was the year of the Chicago thing. It was the year of the Tet Offensive that started the year off. Assassinations. I mean, it was awful stuff. The hippies and the drug thing was going on. Everybody had a reaction to that, pro or con or otherwise. . . And then Apollo 8 ended the year with the Book of Genesis being read from the Moon. It was quite a change. It was a very absolutely different kind of public event than a lot of the previous ones, most of which had been with hurt, pain, and agony wrapped around them. This was an entirely different kind of thing, and we were part of it and felt like we were continuing, and that we had more in front of us yet to do.
That's the other thing that happened to us. Because of the pace of things, we never really had time to stop and just enjoy it or even to reflect very much on it in a broad way or an overall way. We never had time to sit around and talk about it. We were always....
....so involved in a mission and then the next one, and then the next one, that we did not have time to enjoy it, perhaps, as much as we should have, although the enjoyment came from the energy and the adrenaline that was pumping the whole time. But we didn't have time to be very reflective about it, and that's really come, for  me, in the last 5 to 10 years. It has been a revisiting of a lot of the events and a lot of people, one thing and another, books and movies and coverage and anniversaries, and so on.
I'm now grandfather to 12 little people. I have a sense of what life's going to be for them and that, as a member of the family, I participated in some way. I'm leaving something for them to have some sense of what I had a chance to be a part of.
As you were moving into the more scientifically focused phases, Apollo was beginning to lose support, or funding. Did that affect you at all at the time?
I guess I could answer that in a couple of different ways. When I was doing this work in the '60s, I never thought about what was going to come afterwards. I had this sense that it was going to go on forever. It's probably a failing or an idealism of youth, I guess, but you sort of think like, God, this is wonderful stuff, and you think it's going to go on forever. . .
On the other hand, this was set up, as you said, as a response to what was considered to be a major threat, and this was seen as a way to demonstrate capability and accomplishment in this field, and we had done that. Within the program, it's probably like any bureaucracy or any enterprise. Once you get to do something, you think you'd like to do it several more times and repeat it and so on. And as a matter of fact, at the time, there wasn't an alternative that was sitting in front of us that says, "Okay, now that we've done that, we're going to go do this." It took a little while to develop what we were going to do next.
So there was a sense of inertia carrying the missions along, and there was a sense in the program by a lot of people that they wanted to continue and fly another one, another two, another five, depending on, you know, whoever you talked to. Some people just thought we ought to fly them indefinitely, I suppose. And certainly that was a very strong opinion in the lunar science community,  because, to them we had just gotten over all this operational stuff and we were really getting ready to be able to do the scientific things that they wanted to do, and the 15 [Apollo 15] was the first mission that had an extensive set of scientific capabilities after the initial capabilities of 11, 12, and 14. And I'm sure they would want to have continued it, and they would probably still be exploring the Moon today.
But it was a response to a certain set of circumstances. Once responded to, what we saw was acknowledgment, explicit or otherwise, by both the political system in America and probably by the public, that we had indeed achieved satisfaction of the purpose, or that the response that we undertook satisfied what caused it in the first place. I think the political system was satisfied, and the public was satisfied that we had done that, and that there was a sense that it was costing a considerable amount of money. The percentage, for example, of the Federal budget that NASA took in the peak years was like four percent. Today, and for long periods of time, almost all the time, it's been one or less than one percent of the Federal budget. So, four percent and one percent is a big multiple. . . And there was a sense that, with everything else that was going on in America, priorities needed changing, and that was the political sound bite that became popular to describe the fact that we needed to reorient and couldn't be spending this amount of money or this high a percentage of our Federal budget for this kind of thing. In light of the fact that it had accomplished its original purpose, and the return, although seen as very valuable by the lunar scientists, was not seen as so valuable to be worth that kind of money by the political system. And I think that was probably, although they might not have known exactly what the numbers were, the sense that the public had at the time.
So I think it was natural that it served a purpose, but there wasn't a lot of purpose to be served by just continuing to do the same thing over and over again. And it was disappointing to people, I think, but being realistic about it, I think it was appropriate.
You know, other endeavors were different. For example, the opening up of the New World. There clearly was, once people got over here, a reason to come back. . .
 In the case of the Apollo sequence, the reason to go back would have been the satisfaction of scientific understanding, or the gaining of scientific understanding about what's going on. That doesn't have-didn't at the time and doesn't today-as high a priority as some other things, like the motivations that were operative at the time of the opening up of the New World. Not only was there trade, there was competition with the other major European powers and so on. There was a different set of circumstances. . . that's why it's difficult, I think, to get another major new initiative in space started, beyond the Space Station. It isn't obvious what the relevance and what the rationale is for going ahead and doing that, especially since it's very expensive. If it's a very expensive thing, it's hard to convince people that we should go do that to satisfy our curiosity. It's not much the curiosity of the American public, at least as I can read it today, and I suppose they would say, "Yes, I'm curious about that, and if it costs 10 bucks, go find out, but if it costs lots more than that (which it would), then I don't know that I'm all that curious about it today. I'll wait another day. And maybe you can do it cheaper in the future. Technology changes and things will change and so on and so on, so what's the hurry. I can do that later."
And I think that's the kind of valley that the space program is in right now in terms of the surrounding environment in the country. There's no urgency to go do something, and there's nothing very specific or tangible that we can articulate that there's a reason for going to do that. If, for example, we could solve all the pollution problems of energy and do it on the Moon or some other place and microwave it back to the Earth, well, that might have some interest, if we could do it at a price that was competitive or effective.
I think it's difficult to sell exploration for exploration's sake when it has a real, real high price tag on it, and that's the difficulty that the space program is going to face in trying to chart a course beyond the Space Station. It's not clear yet what that rationale and relevancy is going to be, but I think we need to struggle to find it, so that we can continue. In the big scheme of things, man has moved, and he's probably going to continue to move, and it will take a while.
On the other hand, the exploration of the New World took a while. I mean, it went on for decades/centuries, so, you know, this  will, too, and it will have periods when it's fast and periods when it's not so fast, and periods when it's searching for what we are going to do next, and what we are going to do next is probably going to be an agenda for NASA. It is today, to some extent, but it will become more of an agenda as the Space Station program begins to mature.
Is there anything today that we've talked about that you wanted to close off points on?
Let's see. I will probably say this a couple of different ways, a couple of different times, but when I look back on it, I mean, I think we would all say the same thing in slightly different words. We loved what we were able to do. We loved the opportunity to be able to do it. We loved the-I don't want to dramatize this about the challenge of it-but we loved the newness and uniqueness of it, and the fact that we were able to participate in it. I loved the privilege of being in the role that I was.
When I go back and talk about what happened in space, I find that, gee, I was kind of in a spot doing something on almost all of the significant events that ever happened in the human space program in the country, one way or another. I didn't get to do them all, but I got to do a lot of them. And you know, it was done by-not only what we did, but the whole program-people all over America. They weren't necessarily the best and the brightest at anything, they were just pretty good and dedicated.
What took it to another level was dedication to doing it very well, and you took a set of people that I guess you'd have to say were average, and they were dedicated to doing something that was really, in its sum, far above average. We were all successful at pulling it off, and I think we all carry a sense that we were involved in something that was much bigger than each of us as individuals. What we ended up doing in Apollo was a lot bigger than the sum of all of us and I think we all articulate it differently perhaps, but we all carry a sense of that kind of a watershed event in history, and in the development of civilization and the race as we knew it.
 It remains to be seen what forms this new frontier is going to take in the future, but I think all of us who participated would have confidence and faith that, yes, indeed, we have opened up an entirely new thing that was not a window, perhaps, a dimension that was not available before. And I don't know exactly what the form of exploring and exploiting that window will be in the future, but it will be there and it will be significant for all of us here on the planet.
We loved it. We loved the work, we loved the comradeship, we loved the competition, we loved the sense of doing something that was important to our fellow Americans. We were obsessed with it. But it took a lot of average people and a few extraordinary leaders, and we managed to do big things. Maybe that's a lesson to take away from this history. You really can do significant things and accomplish extraordinary things just by the proper energy and structuring of what you want to do, but it has to be meaningful and relevant to people. I think that was part of what was so right about Apollo, articulated, of course, at the beginning by John F. Kennedy. But it was something the American public seemed to need the most during that period in terms of a response and reassurance about America's role in the emerging frontier of space. So I think we have to be sure that we have that kind of component, and not a purely self-serving interest, in our rationales and attempts to justify new exploration initiatives.