Robert J. Parks, deputy director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, will retire June 30, 1987, JPL Director Lew Allen has announced.
A member of the JPL staff since 1947, Parks has been responsible for some of the most important U.S. space missions. In his current position, which he has held since 1984, Parks has functioned as JPL's general manager, responsible for the day-to-day management of the Laboratory's resources and the direction and coordination of its activities.
"Bob has earned our respect and gratitude and we shall miss his high level of technical and managerial experience," Allen said.
Before becoming deputy director, Parks was associate director for solar system exploration, assistant laboratory director for flight projects, planetary program director and chief of the Lab's guidance division. His earliest work at JPL was on guidance systems for the Army's Corporal and Sergeant missiles.
Under Parks' direction, the Laboratory conducted the world's first spacecraft mission to another planet, the Mariner 2 mission to Venus in 1962; the Ranger 7, 8 and 9 missions in 1964 and 1965, which produced the first close-up photos of the Moon; and the Mariner 4 mission to Mars in 1965.
Parks also oversaw Mariner 5 to Venus in 1967; Mariners 6 and 7 to Mars in 1969; Mariner 9 to Mars in 1971; Mariner 10, which in 1973 was the first spacecraft to travel to the planet Mercury; and the JPL portion of NASA's Viking orbiter and lander mission to Mars.
In addition, he was project manager for the Surveyor lunar lander series in l965-66 and, during l978 and l979, managed the Voyager Project which sent spacecraft to Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus.
Parks was born in Los Angeles in 1922. He was graduated from Caltech in 1944 with bachelor's degree in electrical engineering. He and his wife, Hanne, live in La Canada-Flintridge, Calif. They have three sons and grandchild.
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