Joseph Crane Simmons

Science & Technology

Joseph Crane Simmons (1935-)

was born and raised in St. George, Utah. He played baseball and basketball for Dixie and after graduating 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, both in Electrical Engineering.

His professional career began in 1957 when he joined then Douglas Aircraft Co. (later became McDonnell Douglas) in their new Missiles and Space Division. He analyzed and designed pitch, yaw, and roll control systems for the country’s first IRBM, THOR, which was deployed in England in 1960. THOR with an upper stage added was also used to put one of the first satellites in orbit for the United States in May of 1960. In 1983 he was appointed as Chief Engineer for the NASA industry competition for the concept definition and preliminary design of the Space Station Freedom (later to be renamed International Space Station). This competition was won by McDonnell Douglas in 1988. In 1992 he returned as Chief Engineer of the Delta II space launch vehicle program. This rocket was used to launch all of the USAF GPS satellites, and over 350 scientific, interplanetary, commercial communication, and weather satellites. The JPL Pathfinder payload named Sojouner was launched 12/7/1996 and landed on Mars 7/4/1997 to celebrate the nation’s bicentennial. In 1998 he was awarded the NASA Public Service Medal from the Goddard Space Flight Center for Outstanding Contributions to NASA’s Missions. He and his wife , the former Shanna Stirland, are the parents of 3 sons, two daughters, 22 grand children and 8 great grand children.