From Rockets to Writing

David Redick, BSE-ME 1958, Test Eng., Sales, Management

David Redick, BSE-ME 1958

Dave in 2005

I started in June-1958 as a Field Eng. trainee for liquid propellant (kerosene RP-1, and liq oxy) rocket engine firm Rocketdyne (a div. of No. American Aviation) at the engineering and manufacturing site in Canoga Park, CA, and their development test site in the Santa Susana mountains 20 mi NW of there (west end of San Fernando Valley). The test stand shot the engine exhaust downward into a water-cooled deflector. We dumped a lot of fuel and triclorethylene there and the about 700 acre site is now abandoned and cannot be cleaned-up! Ugh. My first field assignment was in Mar-1959 at the Sycamore canyon test Site for the AF Atlas ICBM, built at Convair Astronautics nearby. The site was 20 mi north of San Diego and in the landing approach for Miramar Naval Air Station (F4 Phantom fighters started there). Any of thousand small defects (leaks, bad valve, low pressure, etc.) can cause an explosion, but it worked well and became a cheap, expendable, sat. launch vehicle after the silo deployment ended in about 1970. The mini-rocket powered turbo-pump (2 impellers at each end of one shaft for both fuel and liq oxy; seals in middle of shaft were critical) was a marvel of hi RPM and pressures. These days we buy them from Russia (maybe not, after the Ukraine mess). In 1961 I was assigned to Cape Canaveral to actually work on launches. The Atlas sites are still there (near Cocoa Beach). In 1963 I started work for Lockheed Missiles and Space Co. in Sunnyvale, CA on the then super-secret ‘spy in the sky’ satellite project (started after the U2 spy plane was shot down over Russia). I can talk about it now, after the magazine articles. We got cameras (10 in. dia. lens) from Itek near Boston, put them in a 5 ft dia by 20 ft gold-plated (for thermal reflection) satellite which was launched atop a Thor missile (one Rocketdyne 150k thrust engine) from Vandenberg AFB just N. of Santa Barbara, CA. The site juts into the ocean, so we could do Southerly polar –orbiting launches (good ground coverage as the earth turns under it), and not pass over populated areas. Starting in 1965 I did a career in telecommunications sales and management until I retired in 2004. I now write about politics , money, and economics in my books (on , and at my sites and I enjoyed my academic and social life at U of M. As one of the first to attend college from my blue-collar family, college had a greater impact on my life than for most students. I have gone to many Homecoming football games, and walk the main and north campuses with pleasant nostalgia. Go Blue!

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