Joseph Crane Simmons

Science & Technology

Joseph Crane Simmons (1935-)

was born and raised in St. George, Utah. After graduating from Dixie College in 1955, he continued his education by receiving a bachelor’s degree from the University of Utah and a master’s degree from the University of Southern California in Electrical Engineering.

His professional career began in 1957, when he joined McDonnell Douglas Astronautics Company, and was assigned to the Missile and Space Division. He designed the control system for the Thor booster rocket that placed the first United States satellite into orbit. He was appointed chief engineer for space launch vehicles and was the Director of Engineering for the United States Space Station soon to be deployed. During the development, he was responsible to technically direct the efforts of 2,500 engineers at McDonnell Douglas, IBM, RCA and Honeywell. He was responsible for the Delta II and Titan II launch vehicles that placed the MARS Pathfinder on the surface of Mars, and the MARS Global Surveyor in Mars’ orbit. In 1998, he was awarded the NASA Public Service Medal from the Goddard Space Flight Center. He and his wife, the former Shanna Stirland, are the parents of three sons and two daughters.