Kenneth S. Kleinknecht
Wall of Honor Level:Air and Space Leader
Honored By:Mr. David L. Troy
Kenny Kleinknecht was a pioneer of U.S. aerospace engineering and technology. After receiving his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University, he joined the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics (NACA) at Lewis Research Center in Cleveland where he was Project Engineer and Aeronautical Research Scientist for several aircraft development test programs. In 1951, he joined the NACA Flight Research Center, Edwards AFB, serving as Aeronautical Research Scientist and Advanced Projects Manager, working on the development of the X-15 from its inception through its early flights. He was part of the original Space Task Group that formed NASA at the Langley Research Center in 1958. In 1959 he transferred to the Manned Spacecraft Center (later Johnson Space Center) in Houston where he served as the Mercury Program Manager, Deputy Manager for the Gemini Program, Manager for Apollo Program Command and Service Modules, Skylab Program Manager, Director of Flight Operations and Vehicle Manager for the first Columbia Shuttle flight. In addition, he served as NASA Deputy Associate Administrator for Space Transportation Systems at the European Space Agency in Paris. After a 40-year career dedicated to the research and development of manned space flight, he retired from NASA in 1981 and later served in various capacities with Martin Marietta Aerospace (later Lockheed Martin).
He received numerous special honors and awards including: NASA Medal for Outstanding Leadership (presented by President John F. Kennedy); NASA Exceptional Service Medal; NASA Distinguished Service Medal; JSC Special Achievement Award; National Society of Aerospace Professionals' John J. Montgomery Award; American Astronautical Society's W. Randolph Lovelace, II Award; and multiple NASA and JSC Group Achievement Awards. He was a Fellow, American Astronautical Society; an Associate Fellow, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics; Honorary Member, National Society of Aerospace Professionals; and a member of the International Academy of Astronautics.
He served as Executive Board Chairman, Boy Scouts of America's Sam Houston Area Council (Texas) and was active in Columbine Kiwanis (Colorado). He was also a Thirty-Third degree Mason.