Former NASA manned spaceflight chief dies
By Adrian Sainz, APMEMPHIS, Tennessee--Dyer Brainerd Holmes, director of manned space flight for NASA when Americans were making their early forays into space in the early 1960s, has died.
January 13, 2013, 12:02 am TWN
Holmes' stepson, Pierce Ledbetter, said Holmes died at Baptist Memorial Hospital East in Memphis on Friday at age 91. Holmes died from complications from pneumonia, Ledbetter said.
Holmes, who was born in New York in 1921, was an influential figure in the aeronautics and aerospace industries during a career that lasted more than 40 years.
He joined NASA as director of manned space flight in October 1961, according to the NASA History Office. He resigned in June 1963.
During Holmes' time at NASA, John Glenn became the first U.S. astronaut in orbit on Feb. 20, 1962 on Mercury-Atlas 6.
Scott Carpenter followed Glenn by riding Mercury-Atlas 7 into space on May 24 of the same year. Walter Schirra became the fifth American in space on Mercury-Atlas 8 on Oct. 3, 1962.
Holmes also helped lay the groundwork for the Apollo program and America's ambitious venture to the Moon. He was featured in a Time Magazine cover story on Aug. 10, 1962, which had the tag line “Reaching for the Moon.”
NASA spokesman Bob Jacobs said Holmes took over the Office of Manned Space Flight for NASA during a critical time for the agency.
“NASA was still relatively young and senior administrators wanted to beef up leadership and management experience at headquarters in Washington,” Jacobs said in an emailed statement. “Holmes' expertise in electrical engineering and management was seen as essential to not only study problems but to offer solutions as NASA began to focus its attention on the Apollo program and the race to the Moon.”