In Memoriam
The Astronaut/Cosmonaut Memorial Web Site

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Other
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Honorable Mention
Credits
About the Author

Maj. Robert Henry Lawrence (USAF)

 

Born: 2 October 1935 in Chicago, Illinois.

Education: Graduated from high school at age 16. He became an Air Force officer at 20 after receiving his bachelor of science degree in chemistry from Bradley University in 1956. He earned a doctorate degree in physical chemistry from Ohio State University in 1965. His doctorate thesis was "The Mechanism of the Tritium Beta Ray Induced Exchange Reaction of Deuterium with Methane and Ethane in the Gas Phase."

Marital Status: Married the former Barbara Cress.

Children: One son, Tracey Lawrence.

Recreational Interests: He enjoyed playing baseball, football, tennis, swimming, track, and piano.

Experience: As an undergraduate he had been a member of the Air ROTC and upon graduation received a commission as a second lieutenant in the Air Force. He completed flight training and training as a flight instructor at Webb AFB in Big Spring, Texas and Craig AFB in Selma, Alabama respectively. He was assigned to Furstenfeldbruck AFB near Munich where he trained pilots in the German Air Force. It was at "Furstie" after a fatal accident that he recommended changing the language of instruction from English to German. He made this suggestion on the grounds that flying at incredible speeds left little time for pilots to translate information from the language in which it had been delivered to their native language. Reasoning that if they were instructed in their native language reactions would be more automatic, permitting more rapid responses and perhaps avoiding tragedy.

He logged 2,500 flying hours.

Astronaut Experience: Robert Lawrence was selected as an astronaut for the Air Force Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL) program which was to have flown in the late 1960s.

On 8 December 1967, only months after being named to the prestigious Air Force MOL unit, the F-104 Starfighter jet, in which he was a co-pilot/passenger during a training flight, crashed at Edwards Air Force Base, California. The pilot of the ill-fated flight, Major Harvey Royer was seriously injured, but survived the accident. Lawrence was killed. Royer and Lawrence were performing maneuvers, whose data contributed to the later development of the NASA Space Shuttles.

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