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NASA Mourns the Passing of Noel Hinners
September 11, 2014

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NASA is remembering Noel Hinners, a former chief scientist for NASA who helped plan the scientific exploration of the moon for the nation’s Apollo program and later oversaw several agency projects. He died Sept 5 at age 78.

"The NASA science program we have today was shaped by Noel - from the people, to the missions, to his unrelenting effort to always get the best science," said Ellen Stofan, NASA’s chief scientist, at the agency’s Headquarters,  in Washington. "He was a personal mentor to me, and to so many of today's space scientists. We simply would not be where we are today without Noel."

A geologist and geochemist by training, Noel began his space career in the 1963 where he worked on the Apollo program and lunar exploration. Hinners was 33 years-old when Apollo 11 landed on the moon. He came to NASA Headquarters in Washington in 1972 as deputy director of lunar programs in the Office of Space Science. From 1974 to 1979, he was NASA associate administrator for Space Science.

He served from 1979 to 1982 as director of the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum, and between 1982 and 1987 was director of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. He then became the agency’s third-ranking executive as associate deputy administrator of NASA.  He left the agency in 1989 to join the Martin Marietta Corporation. After Martin Marietta merged to become Lockheed Martin Corp., Hinners was a vice president of flight systems. His responsibilities included managing one of the first projects dedicated to exploring a comet.

Beyond his numerous accomplishments, Hinners is remembered as a person dedicated to sharing his knowledge and experience, in addition to helping the next generation continue making great leaps in human achievement.

The NASA family will always remember him for his talents and dedication to space exploration. His personal contributions to our nation’s space program are legendary, as was his legacy of mentoring, and his kindness to all who knew him. 

Hinners is survived by his wife, Diana, of Littleton, Colorado; sons Jeff and Craig; sisters Barbara Miller of Atlanta, Cynthia Altschuler of Morristown, New Jersey, and Janet Amos of Ventura, California; and brothers Richard Hinners of New Jersey, Bruce Hinners of Wayne, New Jersey, and John Hinners of Port Murray, New Jersey.

Noel Hinners
Dr. Noel Hinners
Image Credit: 
NASA
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Page Last Updated: September 11th, 2014
Page Editor: Jim Wilson