Former KSC Director Forrest McCartney Succumbs to Cancer

Former KSC Director Forrest McCartney Succumbs to Cancer

Lt. Gen. Forrest McCartney (Ret.), a former director of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC), lost his battle with pancreatic cancer yesterday. 

Born in Fort Payne, Alabama in 1931, McCartney rose through the Air Force ranks after receiving his commission through the Reserve Officer Training Corp and joining the regular Air Force in 1952.   With a master’s degree in nuclear engineering, he spent a significant part of his Air Force career involved in missile and space programs, including early work on the then-classified Corona reconnaissance satellite program and a multitude of assignments to other satellite programs that eventually led to his assignment as Commander of Air Force Space Division.  He was promoted to Lieutenant General in 1983.

In 1986, following the space shuttle Challenger tragedy, then-NASA Administrator James Fletcher asked McCartney to serve as KSC Director.   He had been closely involved in planning for the space shuttle flights from Vandenberg Air Force Base that were anticipated at the time (but later scrapped).    From October 1, 1986-August 31, 1987 he was detailed from the Air Force.  He then retired from the Air Force and formally became KSC director that year, serving in that position until December 31, 1991.

He later became vice president of launch operations for Lockheed Martin Astronautics.

An Air Force biography is available on Air Force Space Command’s website.  McCartney participated in an oral history interview in 2001 that is posted on KSC’s website in which he describes his career in some detail, especially his time at KSC.

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