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Karel Jan Bossart

Pioneer Astronautics Engineer

Born Antwerp, Belgium

February 9, 1904 - August 3, 1975

Karel Jan Bossart was granted a Degree in Mining Engineering at the University of Brussels in 1924. Emigrating to the United States in 1930, he began a 40-year aerospace engineering career, which eventually led him to the Convair Division of General Dynamics, the scene of his greatest triumphs.

An early proponent of missile technology and manned space flight, Bossart pioneered in guided and ballistic missile design and rocket power concepts, which led directly to the first U.S. Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, the famed "ATLAS." As principal designer and project leader for this program, his innovative genius produced the novel fuel system, the gimbaled engines for directional control, and the first separable nose cone, which made the Atlas so successful.

Because of its reliability and performance, the Atlas booster became the principal vehicle for the first U.S. manned space program, which placed the Mercury Capsule in Earth orbit so successfully. Karel Bossart was internationally honored for excellence and dedication in Astronautics, for his courageous probing of the unknown, and for his contributions to advancing the state of the art in this discipline.

Invested 1965 in the International Aerospace Hall of Fame

From "These We Honor," The International Hall of Fame; The San Diego Aerospace Museum, San Diego, CA. 1984

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Updated: March 12, 2004