SP-4310 Way Station to Space


- About the Author -



[479] Mack Herring, a 35-year veteran of NASA, has had the opportunity to be an eyewitness to the first decades of the history of human exploration of space, especially from the viewpoint of how the John C. Stennis Space Center contributed and related to the momentous events since it was conceived in 1961. Herring's book, Way Station to Space, A History of the John C. Stennis Space Center, tells the history of the facility with the drama that comes best from a seasoned journalist, and the documented accuracy of a historian.

Herring graduated from the University of Alabama where he majored in journalism, English, and creative writing. He began his writing career in college, covering the controversy surrounding the issue of school integration events occurring at the university for Look magazine and the Birmingham Post-Herald. Upon graduation, Herring became editor of the Geneva (AL) Reaper and later worked as a reporter and feature writer for the Dothan (AL) Eagle.

After serving one year as public information officer for the U.S. Army Aviation Center at Fort Rucker, AL, Herring joined the Public Affairs Office at the NASA George C. Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, AL. He wrote numerous newspaper and magazine features about the early work of the Marshall Center that were published in Aviation Week, Missiles and Rockets, and in newspapers in this country and abroad. He collaborated with the late Dr. Wernher von Braun to write several pieces, including an article expressing von Braun's views regarding his expectations for the world in the year 2000 that appeared in Reader's Digest. Another feature Herring wrote with von Braun, Building A Colony On The Moon, an often-used reference today, appeared in a national publication.

The author's association with the Stennis Space Center (SSC) dates back to its very first day of existence when he wrote the press release 25 October 1961 announcing the construction of the national rocket testing facility. He served as its first public affairs officer and saw first hand the exodus of the original landowners, testing of the giant Saturn V, and the development of the center as a unique, multiagency federal laboratory.

Herring gained a national and international perspective of NASA while serving as an astronaut protocol officer at NASA Headquarters, and as an [480] information officer aboard the astronaut recovery ships during the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs. As a speech writer, Herring contributed to speeches given by Presidents John Kennedy and Richard Nixon, as well as numerous space program notables.

Most recently, he authored a short biography of Senator John C. Stennis entitled "Father of America's Modem Navy," for a brochure distributed at the commissioning of the aircraft carrier named in the Senator's honor. The sketch has also been widely distributed by the U.S. Navy.

For the past 20 years, Herring has written a monthly column for the SCC's Lagniappe newspaper. Interestingly, he was instrumental in founding the newspaper at the facility. He was the SSC's first historian and serves today as an advisor on historical matters to the center director and public affairs officer.

Herring lives in Bay St. Louis, MS, and has two children, Steven Lee, who resides at Point Richmond, CA, and Kyle Jackson of Seabrook, TX.