Deaths elsewhere

March 08, 2010

AARON COHEN, 79

Space shuttle program co-founder

Aaron Cohen, the former director of NASA's Johnson Space Center who helped create the space shuttle program, has died of cancer in College Station, Texas.

Mr. Cohen was named director of the Johnson Space Center in 1986 after the space shuttle Challenger exploded, killing teacher Christa McAuliffe and six astronauts. He told the Associated Press then that flying the shuttle safely would depend on "paying attention to detail" and he would encourage those who worked for him to do so.

Mr. Cohen was at the helm when shuttle flights resumed nearly three years later and continued to lead the center until 1993. He resigned from NASA to teach at Texas A&M University, his alma mater.

"Aaron provided the critical and calm guidance needed at the Johnson Space Center to successfully recover from the Challenger accident and return the space shuttle to flight," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in statement.

Mr. Cohen, a mechanical engineer, joined NASA in 1962 and managed the computer guidance systems for the Apollo command module and the landing module that first carried astronauts to the moon's surface. He was a leader in developing the shuttle.

Mr. Cohen died Feb. 25, NASA said. He was buried March 1 in San Antonio.

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