Class of 1959 Grad Helped Launch Apollo 11

Apollo 11 landing
Jon Haussler ’59

July 18, 2019

Jon Haussler ’59 graduated from Susquehanna University with degrees in math, physics and chemistry, so it would surprise few that the idea of launching rockets and satellites into space intrigued him. 

Responding to an ad touting endless job opportunities in northern Alabama, the then recent grad made the trek from Pennsylvania and was hired almost immediately at the U.S. Army Ballistic Missile Agency. Haussler, along with thousands of other young engineers, possessed the skills, determination and unrelenting curiosity necessary to build the nation’s bourgeoning space program. 

In 1960, two years after the establishment of NASA, Haussler became an original member of the Marshall Space Flight Center, which was tasked to develop the Saturn launch vehicles for the Apollo program.

“To me, landing on the moon sounded pretty good. And we had the resources we needed to get the job done,” Haussler recently recalled to Catherine Godbey of The Decatur Daily

As a member of the early Apollo missions, Haussler plotted the velocity of rockets and worked on flight evaluations, looking for anomalies between post- and pre-flight trajectories. 

During Apollo 11, the mission that ultimately culminated with Neil Armstrong becoming the first person to step on the lunar surface, Haussler was an integral member behind the scenes. He worked with a team to slingshot Apollo 11’s Saturn V rockets around the moon to avoid trajectories that presented collision hazards. 

After Apollo 11 and the first moon landing, Haussler continued at NASA, eventually overseeing various elements of the Apollo missions that followed. He retired in 1994, after a 34-year career. 

“It was an amazing experience,” Haussler told Godbey. “There aren’t many of us still around that worked through the entire Apollo program. That is probably one of the things I’m most proud of, working in the program from its inception to completion.” 

Saturday, July 20, marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. NASA is celebrating with several events.