Sun Lakes Aero Club to Feature Presentation on Race to the Moon

Gary Vacin

“Why the terrible start in the race to the moon?” That will be the topic of a presentation at the Sun Lakes Aero Club (SLAC) gathering Monday, April 20, at the Sun Lakes Country Club Navajo Room. The public is invited to attend. The speaker will be Sun Lakes resident Don Palmer who, in the 1960s, was the youngest engineer working on Collins Radio’s (now Rockwell Collins) $40 million contract to design and build critical radio systems for the Apollo moon missions.

Palmer gives two reasons why our intelligence gathering agencies were so caught off guard:

1. The “out of the blue” October 1957 launch of Sputnik by the Soviets which caused a surprising unrest of many U.S. citizens.

2. The poor design status of our own strategic ICBM development efforts:

a.) The Dec. 6, 1957, Vanguard launching explosion on the pad at Cape Canaveral on worldwide TV.

b.) A second launch of the Vanguard system on Feb. 6, 1958, which was destroyed in early launch by launch control.

It was 11 years before the U.S. finally caught up and surpassed the Soviets in the race to the moon. Palmer’s presentation will be the sixth in a series of aviation-related topics given at monthly SLAC gatherings. The club will take a hiatus during the summer before renewing activities in November.

For additional information, contact Gary Vacin at 480-298-7017.