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  • Saverio "Sonny" F. Morea
  • Saverio "Sonny" F. Morea

    Foil: 15 Panel: 1 Column: 3 Line: 88

    Wall of Honor Level:
    Air and Space Friend

    Honored by:
    Mr. Saverio Francis Morea

    Born on January 23rd, 1932 in Queens, New York. Married Angela Fiore in 1954 and had 4 children (Gail,Lorraine,Domenic, and Patricia).

    Attended elementary school at P.S. 121 in Queens,N.Y. Graduated Brooklyn Technical High School in Feb 1950 having completed the Aeronautical Engineering curriculum. Received the Bronze Medal for Mathematics at graduation.(graduating class numbered 685).

    Received a Bachelors of Mechanical Engineering (BME) degree from City College of New York in Feb 1954 along with a 2nd Lt commission in the Corps of Engineers having completed the Army ROTC program at CCNY.

    Engineering graduate studies at Univ. of Ala. Huntsville (UAH) during 1956. Received a Master of Arts in Public Administration (MAPA) degree from the University of Oklahoma in 1974.

    Professional Memberships:
    - Former Member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME); the American Rocket Society (ARS); the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA); and the Joint Army,Navy,NASA, and Air Force, Propulsion Costs Subcommittee (JANNAF).
    - Former Vice President of the Huntsville Opera Theater, Board of Directors.
    - Currently (2011) a member of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA). Been a member of this association for 51 yrs.

    General Aviation:
    - Received a Private Pilots License in 1949 while a Junior at Brooklyn Technical High School.
    - Received a Commercial Pilots License, an Instrument Rating, a Flight Instructors Rating (Airplane and Instruments), and a Multiengine Rating in 1971,1972,1973,and 1974 respectively.
    - Served as the Chief Flight Instructor and later the Assistant Chief Flight Instructor at the Redstone Arsenal Flying Activity with a membership of more than 300 students and pilots (one of the largest
    flying clubs in Alabama).
    - Has accumulated more than 7000 hrs of flight time, of which more than 3600 hrs have been as a Flight Instructor.
    - Owned and operated a Cessna 210D airplane (retractable gear, complex and high performance airplane for 30+ years).
    - Has given flight instruction to more than 100 pupils, many of whom went on to earn their Private Pilot, Commercial Pilot Certificates, and/or their Instrument Ratings.

    Music: Loves all music and Grand Opera in particular. Was a Board member of the Huntsville Opera Theater. Former member, Vice President, and later President of the Huntsville Community Concert Association.

    Publications and Major Papers
    "Status of the Development of the F-1 Engine" (presented to the Chemical Propulsion Information Agency in Tampa, Florida) in 1964
    "America's Lunar Roving Vehicle" (coauthored paper presented to the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics in Denver, Colorado, 1971)
    "Lunar Roving Vehicle" Apollo 15 and 16 (coauthored article for the magazine "Military Engineer," 1972)
    Editor of NASA Publication Pub 2372 "Advanced High Pressure Oxygen/Hydrogen Technology Conference
    Proceedings," 1985
    "Advanced Research and Technology Programs for Advanced High Pressure Oxygen-Hydrogen Rocket Propulsion," (coauthored technical memorandum, presented to the JANNAF Propulsion Committee, 1985)
    "The Lunar Roving Vehicle-A Historical Perspective" (presented at a symposium sponsored by NASA, AIAA, Lunar and Planetary Institute, and others, 1988)
    Authored an article in a recently published book entitled "50 Years of Rockets & Spacecraft in the Rocket City," Turner Publishing Company, 2003

    - Numerous local, national, and international Press Conferences and Interviews, 1970 and after
    - Guest 15-minute spot on the "Mike Douglas" television talk show, 1971
    - Featured actor in a television commercial for the "AUDI Automobile Company on the introduction of their A-8 model (first all aluminum automobile), 1996

    Summary of Work Experience:
    Began professional career in 1954 as a design engineer working in the Aerophysics Department of North American Aviation (later became the Boeing Co.) on the "Navaho" missile program (a supersonic, ram jet powered intercontinental guided cruise missile). Was actively involved in the wind tunnel aft body design.

    After being called to active duty and reassigned to the Ordnance Corps as a 2nd Lieutenant, he was assigned to Dr. Werner Von Braun's group of scientists and engineers in Huntsville, Alabama in 1955, where he spent his military assignment in the field of "guidance and Control" on the Army REDSTONE ballistic missile. During his 2nd year in the military he was promoted to 1st Lt. by Gen. John B. Medaris.

    After resuming civilian status in 1957 he remained in Alabama and switched to his preferred field of choice working in "Rocket Propulsion," where he worked on the development of the "S-3D" liquid-propellant rocket engine used in the Army "JUPITER" Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile (IRBM). He later served as the MSFC's "project engineer" on the development of the "H-1" rocket engine used in the "SATURN" family of boosters (S-1 and S-1 B). A cluster of eight of these engines were used in the booster, producing a lift-off thrust of 1.2 to 1.5 million lbs.

    In July of 1960 he became a charter member of the MSFC when he transferred to NASA with the establishment of the Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC),along with the "Von Braun team" of rocket scientists. He was subsequently named the "F-1" engine project manager. Successful development of this engine was on the critical path toward the successful space flights to the moon. The project had a10-year run out budget approaching $1.0 billion. This responsibility included not only the development of the world's largest and most powerful liquid rocket engine ever (producing 1.5 million pounds of thrust -- a cluster of five of these engines produced the 7.5 million lbs of thrust necessary for the "lift off" of the Apollo moon vehicle) but also included responsibility for the management of construction of the component F-1 test facilities needed at Canoga Park, Calif. as well as the R&D and Production System Test stands at the Edwards Air Force Base in Calif.

    After more than 6 years and the successful "manned" rating of the "F-1" Engine thru the early test flights of Apollo, Mr. Morea was called upon to assume the management of the "J-2" liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen engine that had experienced a double flight failure during an early Apollo test flight. He spent 2 1/2 years overseeing the fixes and required changes to the J-2 engine to enable safe space flights to the moon.

    Upon completion of the satisfactory demonstrations of a "manned" reliable J-2 engine, Mr. Morea was once again called upon by Dr. von Braun; this time to head up the development of a car that could be used by the astronauts who would be going to the moon on Apollo 15, 16, and 17. Its official name was the "Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV)."

    Although not apparent at first glance, this project was extremely difficult to accomplish; not just because of the short time available, a mere 17 1/2 mos. after a prime contractor had been selected, but also because of limited budgets in combination with technical requirements that included redundancy of all major systems and a very limited knowledge of the lunar surface conditions. (The project was given a go ahead 6 weeks before the first landing on the moon; so our knowledge of the surface conditions was extremely limited). Thus the confluence of budget and time constraints, lack of knowledge of lunar surface conditions and extremely difficult to meet technical requirements made the final task seem near impossible.

    Technical requirements included the need for the LRV to carry two astronauts in their space suits, geological tools, and collected moon samples up, down, and across slopes of 25 degrees while going into craters two feet wide and one foot deep. The LRV carried almost three times its own weight in payload. Obviously, the LRV needed a large enough wheel base , with a low center of gravity to prevent tip over, yet could weigh no more than 450 lbs on earth and be carried between the legs of the descent stage of the "Lunar Module"(LM), in a volume of no more than 4 ft X 4 ft X4 ft. This requirement forced the vehicle to be folded up for flight and unfolded semi automatically on the moon (try stuffing your Cadillac into that size box). In addition the LRV had to operate in a vacuum environment with surface temperatures of plus or minus 250 degrees F. The LRV also required a navigation system that would provide a direct straight line return to the LM in the event of an emergency when the astronauts were working beyond the line of sight of the LM. Thus the LRV contained an onboard computer that determined direction and distance back to the LM at all times.

    For his accomplishments in the "Apollo Program that enabled (manned space flight and landing on the Moon) NASA awarded Mr. Morea the "NASA Exceptional Service Medal" on two different occasions: the first for his management of the "F-1" Engine Development Program in 1969 , and the second for his management of the "LRV" (Lunar Roving Vehicle Project in 1971. Mr. Morea also received several other NASA awards for superior achievement and outstanding performance during the years of 1965-1987. In addition, Mr. Morea served some 12 years as the Asst Director of the Structures and Propulsion Laboratory and more than 2 years as the Director of the Research and Technology Office at the Marshall Space Flight Center(MSFC).

    Retired from NASA/MSFC in Nov. 1990 with 35 years of pioneering work in the advancement of Space Flight, Mr. Morea has converted his earlier General Aviation avocation into his new vocation, by teaching and mentoring others to learn to fly and becoming aviation enthusiasts themselves.

    Most Recent Awards:
    - In the Spring of 2006 Mr Morea was recognized in Billy Watkins' book, Apollo Moon Missions, "The Unsung Heroes," as one of fourteen Unsung Heroes of the Apollo Program.
    - On April 10, 2003 Mr. Morea was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the Brooklyn Technical High School of New York, an outstanding school which includes among its 70,000 alumni 24 alumni "Hall of Famers," (including two Nobel Prize winners, an astronaut (Karol Bobko), a well-known "Rock" star (Harry Chapin), a four-star General (James Dalton), an Olympic medalist, and recognized leaders of industry and commerce (ie, the CEO of Barnes and Noble).

    Summary of General Aviation Experience:
    Mr. Morea Developed a passion for aviation at a very young age, starting with the building of aircraft model airplanes as a youngster. By the age of 14 1/2, he joined the New York wing of the Civil Air Patrol as a Cadet, and got his first airplane ride in a PA-19 flying out of Mitchell Field on Long Island in New York.

    Smitten by the "flying bug", he began taking Flying Lessons at Zahns Airport in Lindenhurst, Long Island, soloing at the age of sixteen and receiving his Private Pilots License at the age of seventeen (1949). He worked as a construction laborer every other Saturday, and with his daily earnings of $13.95, he took a flight lesson on alternating Saturdays, flying a 65-hp J-3 Cub.

    In his senior year in high school Mr. Morea joined the New York Air National Guard which was flying B-26s at the time. He served as flight engineer and had an opportunity to fly the now classic AT-6 trainer.

    [Editor's note: The National Air and Space Society profile files contain an expanded version of this profile.]

    Wall of Honor profiles are provided by the honoree or the donor who added their name to the Wall of Honor. The Museum cannot validate all facts contained in the profiles.

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