(May 4, 2020) AIAA Member Spotlight on James R. French

(May 4, 2020) AIAA Member Spotlight on James R. French

James R. French

James R. French
AIAA Fellow(60+ year member of AIAA !)
President, JRF Aerospace Consulting LLC
James R French graduated from MIT in 1958 with a degree of BSME Specializing in Propulsion. While at MIT, Mr French became the Founding President of the MIT Chapter of The American Rocket Society, an AIAA predecessor. In the ensuing years he has pursued additional education both in technical subjects and management. 
Upon graduation, he accepted a job with Rocketdyne Div. of North American Aviation and during a 5 year employment, worked on developmental testing of H-1 engines and combustion devices hardware for F-1 and J-2 engines used in Saturn 5. He was also involved in various experimental programs. Moving on to TRW Systems, Mr. French was Lead Development Test Engineer on the Lunar Module Descent Engine and was responsible for bringing on-line the High Altitude Test Stand use for all-up LMDE testing at TRW’s Capistrano Test Site. He also was involved in experimental testing of exotic propellants.
After leaving TRW as propulsion work ran down, Mr. French joined the Jet Propulsion Laboratory where he worked on testing and launch vehicle integration for Mariners 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9; Viking 1 & 2 and Voyager 1 & 2. Mr. French was Advanced Planetary studies Manager for JPL for several years as well as Chief Engineer for the SP-100 Space Nuclear Power System. He was Chief Engineer of a RTG powered Mars Rover study for a vehicle essentially identical to Curiosity.
Leaving JPL after 19 years, Mr. French was VP Engineering and Chief Engineer for American Rocket Company developing hybrid rocket launch vehicles.
Since leaving AMROC in 1987, Mr. French has been consultant to a variety of aerospace companies, SDIO, NASA, and USAF. As a consultant to SDIO he functioned as the government’s chief engineer on the DC-X project. He has participated in various startup companies in the private space flight arena and currently consults extensively to Blue Origin, a company in which he has been involved since its beginnings. He has worked with Project Icarus investigating interstellar missions. His current efforts draw primarily upon his extensive experience in rocket propulsion development and operational aspects of launch vehicles.
Mr. French is co-author with Dr. Michael Griffin of the best-selling text Space Vehicle Design, published by AIAA. For over 20 years he taught a 4 day short course, mostly through AIAA, on the same topic. The second edition of the book has received the Summerfield Book Award for 2008. Mr French is also the author of Firing a Rocket, a reminiscence of testing rocket engines for the Apollo missions.
Mr. French is a Fellow of both AIAA and the British Interplanetary Society and a 60+ year member of AIAA. He has held several Technical Committee and other posts in AIAA. In 2018, Mr. French was named Engineer of the Year by the Orange County Section of AIAA.
Here is the inspiration for his going into the aerospace career: (Excerpt from Firing a Rocket written by James French, published by Amazon. Used with permission of the author,)
Long before I ever went to college, I knew that there was only one career for me. I wanted to work on rockets and go into space. That began when, at about 12 years old, I read Robert Heinlein’s Rocketship Galileo. Before that I had read “Flash Gordon”, “Buck Rogers” and other comics but never took it seriously. Once I read that book, a whole new universe opened to me and I knew what I wanted to do. I devoured every science fiction writing I could find with particular emphasis on the “hard” science fiction of Heinlein and Arthur Clarke. I also got into the non-fiction side with Willy Ley’s Rockets and its two sequels Rockets and Missiles and Rockets, Missiles, and Space Travel. Then came Ley and Bonestell’s The Conquest of Space and Clarke’s The Exploration of Space and Interplanetary Flight. I was hooked for life and I have never once regretted the choice. 
Since no one in my family had any college education or any real interest outside home and farm, I was all alone. They all thought I was crazy and referred to me as “Einstein” or “The Absent-Minded Professor”. (Absent-mindedness was definitely valid and has only gotten worse with age.) I really had no idea how to follow my dream except that I knew I needed to go to college. I had no idea where to go but fortunately I could find help. Our neighbor, family doctor, and good friend, Dr. Walter Watkins, had been born and raised in Amarillo just as I was. However, he had joined the Army and ended up getting his MD from Johns Hopkins. He moved back home and rapidly became the top surgeon in the area. He understood where I was coming from and provided me with much sound advice and encouragement. Two of my High School teachers, Miss Wilson for mathematics and my physics teacher whose name now escapes me also helped. This latter lady and I were often at odds but she helped me whenever she could in spite of that. I owe them all a huge debt for helping an eager but ignorant kid.

(June 20) How to navigate COVID-19 stress & crisis (Christi Garner) A HISTORY OF ROCK (John Halchak)

June 20, 2020 @ 11:30 am 3:30 pm PDT

A HISTORY OF ROCKETRY by John Halchak, RS-68, Space Launch System (SLS), V-2, Peenemunde, Robert Goddard

Jun 20, 2020 from 1:00 PM to 3:30 PM (PT)

RSVP and Information: https://conta.cc/3f38EK1

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e-Town Hall Meeting

June 20, 2020, 1 PM – 3:30 PM

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11:30 AM – 12:45 PM
Building Resilience: How to navigate stress and crisis of COVID-19

Christi Garner LMFT , Trauma Therapist and Educator

1 PM – 3:30 PM


John Halchak, Senior Fellow
Engineering department of Rocketdyne (now named Aerojet Rocketdyne)

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“Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it” is the famous quotation of the philosopher George Santayana. For the engineer, knowing the mistakes of the past, including why they occurred, is a necessity to avoid repeating them. However, it also is important to know and understand past successes so that they may be stepping stones for future advances. Studying history also gives us a perspective of the present, helping us to understand why things are the way they are today and can point towards a path for change.

This talk will be a broad overview of the history of rocketry, with some emphasis on the importance of materials in the development of the technology. The American rocket pioneer, Dr. Robert H. Goddard, used some surprisingly advanced materials concepts for his rockets, combining metals and ceramics to achieve performance goals. Unfortunately, Goddard’s paranoia combined with his inability to work with others, destroyed his legacy. In their V-2 ballistic missile of World War II, the Germans used a variety of materials, with wartime shortages necessitating some creative materials selections. The V-2, although ineffective as a weapon, had profound long-term consequences, as it jump started ballistic missiles and space exploration. The first American and Soviet rockets were essentially improvements on the German designs that also incorporated higher strength materials to reduce overall weight and increase performance.
John Halchak

John Halchak is a retired Senior Fellow in the Engineering department of Rocketdyne (now named Aerojet Rocketdyne), located in Canoga Park, California. For 13 years, he was the director of the Rocketdyne materials engineering department. With over 51 years of experience in rocket engine materials and processes, he has worked on virtually every major program for that company, including such programs as the Atlas, Gemini, Saturn V- Apollo, Minuteman, Delta, Peacekeeper, Space Shuttle Main Engine, Waterjets, Aerospike, Space Station, NASP, RS-68, X-33, MB-60, and J-2X programs.
In the course of his work, he has been a witness to, and a participant in, many of the historical events in the space program. He has had opportunities to accumulate information from many of the pioneers in rocket development, including some of the original German Peenemunde engineers.

John has given presentations on the history of rocketry at professional societies, conferences, and universities throughout the United States.

He is a graduate of Penn State’s metallurgical engineering department, a registered professional engineer, a member of the Air Force Association, a Fellow of the ASM, and a recipient of the Apollo Achievement Award, the NASA Astronauts’ Personal Achievement Award, the Penn State David Ford McFarland Distinguished Alumni Award, a NASA Group Achievement Award (1995), the San Fernando Valley Engineers’ Council 2006 Distinguished Engineering Achievement Award, and the Rotary National Stellar Award for Achievement in Space Flight.
Building Resilience: How to navigate stress and crisis of COVID-19

Navigating stress and crisis are no longer topics only for first responders and front liners. We have all been impacted this year by pandemics, chaos, and uncertainty. In this presentation we will learn tools for building resilience in times of stress, mindful hacks to feel better today, stress busting techniques to use daily at home or at work to increase your ability to focus and recover from crisis and even tips on how to get better sleep. Practical tools and a place to ask questions while you learn about your body’s innate ability to heal, even in times like these.
Christi Garner LMFT

Christi Garner LMFT is a Trauma Therapist and Educator working closely with first responders and organizations in crisis response for 20 years. Christi provides you the skills that regulate the nervous system to help you restore balance in the face of stress and crisis. Tools to support you as well as to navigate the stress of crisis, to build resilience, to de-escalate, de-stress and recover so you can respond better in the moment and for the long haul. Being a leader in the field requires fortitude, together we will discover the tools to help you get there AND bring your team with you.

Questions : events.aiaalalv@gmail.com | 949.426.8175 | aiaa-lalv.org


June 20, 2020
11:30 am – 3:30 pm PDT
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AIAA Los Angeles-Las Vegas Section