James C. Fletcher

James Chipman Fletcher ( born June 5, 1919 in Millburn, New Jersey, United States; † 22 December 1991 in Washington, DC) was an American physicist. From 1964 to 1971 he was president of the University of Utah, then on 27 April 1971 to 1 May 1977 and 12 May 1986 to 8 April 1989, the fourth and seventh head of the U.S. space agency NASA.


Fletcher was born in Millburn in the U.S. state of New Jersey. He earned a undergraduate degree in physics from Columbia University in 1948 and a Ph.D. in physics from the California Institute of Technology. After holding research and training places at the universities of Harvard and Princeton, he joined in 1948 in the Hughes Aircraft Company a. Later he worked at the Ramo - Wooldridge Corporation in the Department of guided weapons.

Fletcher was in 1958 co-founder of Space Electronics Corporation in Glendale, California, which got the Space General Corporation after a merger. Later he was appointed as system vice president of Aerojet General Corporation in Sacramento, California. In 1964 he became president of the University of Utah, a position which he held until his appointment as NASA administrator in 1971.

During his first term as an administrator at NASA Fletcher received by Nixon Administration for permission to develop the Space Shuttle. In addition, he was responsible for the Viking program that sent two lander to Mars, led the Skylab missions and approved the Voyager program and the Apollo - Soyuz Test Project.

As Fletcher 1977, the NASA left, he became an independent consultant in McLean, Virginia. He also worked in the Faculty of the University of Pittsburgh. During the nine years between his terms as NASA Administrator Fletcher was active as a consultant for major governmental leaders who were involved in the planning of space policy. Among other activities, he served the Advisory Board, which was involved in the development of the Strategic Defense Initiative.

During his second tenure at NASA he was involved heavily in the effort to work up the Challenger disaster. After the accident, the shuttle program went into a two-year interruption. During this time, NASA was working on the Solid Rocket Booster to revise and reorganize their management structures. Fletcher assured that NASA is again investing heavily in the safety and reliability of the program, changes to the organizational structure to improve the efficiency and the management system have restructured. He oversee a complete overhaul of various components of the shuttle, which the security should be increased to. At the time, a Notausstiegsmöglichkeit for the astronauts has been developed. He had the oversight of the space agency as the shuttle recorded the flights again on 29 September 1988. During his time as an administrator he also agreed with the Hubble program.

Fletcher died on December 22, 1991 from lung cancer at his home in a suburb of Washington, DC.