Born: 1908-04-28. Died: 1998-04-02. Birth Place: Germany.
A graduate of the Dresden Institute of Technology, Rees began his career in rocketry in 1940 when he became technical plant manager of the German rocket center at Peenemuende. He came to the U.S. in 1945 with von Braun's rocket team and worked with von Braun at Fort Bliss, Texas, moving to Huntsville in 1950 when the Army transferred its rocket activities to the Redstone Arsenal. He served as Deputy Director of Development Operations at the Army Ballistic Missile Agency from 1956 to 1960. From 1960 he was Deputy Director for R&D, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center. In 1970 he succeeded von Braun as Director of the Marshall Center. He retired in 1973 and died at Huntsville, Alabama.
Rees, described as von Braun's "right hand man", was in charge of V-2 manufacturing during World War II and took on the same role in the United States, culminating in supervision of development of the rockets stages for the Saturn V. Rees was described as "autocratic, demanding, technologically arrogant", "vitriolic" in his reports on subcontractor's development and production. One subcontractor manager described him as "a hard worker…but (with) an authoritarian, dictatorial style of management - 'the floggings will continue until the work improves'." - and this gentlemen actually liked him.
ABMA, 1959. From left to right: Toftoy, Stuhlinger, Oberth, von Braun, Rees
The Charter of the MSFC-STG Space Vehicle Board, prepared jointly by Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) and STG, was approved at the first meeting of the Board at NASA Headquarters. The purpose of the Space Vehicle Board was to assure complete coordination and cooperation between all levels of the MSFC and STG management for the NASA manned space flight programs in which both Centers had responsibilities. Members of the Board were the Directors of MSFC and STG (Wernher von Braun and Robert R. Gilruth), the Deputy Director for Research and Development, MSFC (Eberhard F. M. Rees), and the STG Associate Director (Walter C. Williams). The Board was responsible for:
The Sub-Board would :
Four Saturn-Apollo Coordination Panels were established to make available the technical competence of MSFC and STG for the solution of interrelated problems of the launch vehicle and the spacecraft. The four included the Launch Operations, Mechanical Design, Electrical and Electronics Design, and Flight Mechanics, Dynamics, and Control Coordination Panels. Although these Panels were designated as new Panels, the members selected by STG and MSFC represented key technical personnel who had been included in the Mercury-Redstone Panels, the Mercury-Atlas Program Panels, the Apollo Technical Liaison Groups, and the Saturn working groups. The Charter was signed by von Braun and Gilruth. Charter of the MSFC-STG Space Vehicle Board, October 3, 1961.
D. Brainerd Holmes, Director of the NASA Office of Manned Space Flight, announced the formation of the Manned Space Flight Management Council. The Council, which was to meet at least once a month, was to identify and resolve difficulties and to coordinate the interface problems in the manned space flight program. Members of the Council, in addition to Holmes, were: from MSC, Robert R. Gilruth and Walter C. Williams, Director and Associate Director; from Marshall Space Flight Center, Wernher von Braun, Director, and Eberhard F. M. Rees, Deputy Director for Research and Development; from NASA Headquarters, George M. Low, Director of Spacecraft and Flight Missions; Milton W. Rosen, Director of Launch Vehicles and Propulsion; Charles H. Roadman, Director of Aerospace Medicine; William E. Lilly, Director of Program Review and Resources Management; and Joseph F. Shea, Deputy Director for Systems Engineering, Shea, formerly Space Programs Director for Space Technology Laboratories, Inc., Los Angeles, Calif., had recently joined NASA.
Key MSC and NASA Headquarters management changes were announced at a press conference at MSC. George S. Trimble, Jr., was transferred from NASA OMSF to serve as Deputy Director of MSC. Eberhard F. M. Rees of MSFC would be temporarily assigned as a Special Assistant on Manufacturing Problems to George M. Low, ASPO Manager. Edgar M. Cortright was named as Deputy to George E. Mueller at OMSF. Participating in the press conference were NASA Administrator James E. Webb, Mueller, MSC Director Robert R. Gilruth, Trimble, and MSC Public Affairs Officer Paul P. Haney.
Eberhard Rees, Director of the Apollo Special Task Team at North American Rockwell's Downey plant, wrote ASPO Manager George Low outlining what he termed "serious quality and reliability resources deficiencies" and proposed several steps to bolster NASA's manpower in these areas. Specifically, Rees cited the immediate need for additional manpower (primarily through General Electric) to make vendor surveys, test failure assessments, and specification review and analysis and establish minimum inspection points. In addition, Rees said, many areas were almost totally lacking in coverage by the government, such as monitoring qualification tests, receiving inspections, pre-installation test, and many manufacturing operations. He urged Low to reassess his requirements in Houston to determine how many persons MSC might contribute (along with those from MSFC and GE) to plug these vital areas.
Eberhard Rees, Apollo Special Task Team chief at North American Rockwell, participated in a failure review at Northrop-Ventura of the recent parachute test failure and in development of a revised test plan. Others at the review included Dale Myers and Norman Ryker from North American and W. Gasich and W. Steyer, General Manager and Apollo Program Manager at Northrop-Ventura. Those at the review put together a revised drop test program that resulted in only a two-week schedule delay because of the failure. Repair of the parachute test vehicle was under way. Meantime, tests would continue, employing bomb and boilerplate devices. Also, Rees decided to establish a Flight Readiness Review Board (headed by Joseph Kotanchik of MSC) to approve each drop test, and Northrop officials had established an internal review board to review test engineering and planning and were tightening their inspection and quality control areas.
Eberhard F. M. Rees, head of the Apollo Special Task Team at North American Rockwell, met with Kenneth S. Kleinknecht, MSC, and Martin L. Raines, Manager of the White Sands Test Facility, to review the team's recent operations and the responses of North American and its numerous subcontractors to the team's recommendations. Kleinknecht listed what he thought were the chief problems facing the CSM program: the S-band highgain antenna (which he said should be turned over entirely to the task team for resolution); the parachute program; the environmental control system; and contamination inside the spacecraft. He urged that the team take the lead in developing solutions to these problems.
Eberhard F. M. Rees, Apollo Special Task Team Director at North American Rockwell, reported to ASPO Manager George M. Low on the need for audits of equipment supplied from vendors to the spacecraft contractor. Significant hardware failures and nonconformances had been discovered after delivery of equipment from the vendors to Downey, Rees stated, and NASA must take strong steps to upgrade the quality of workmanship at the vendors' locations.
Apollo Special Task Team Director Eberhard F. M. Rees wrote Dale D. Myers, Apollo CSM Program Manager at North American Rockwell, to convey the concern of ASPO Manager George M. Low and others over the status of the S-band high-gain-antenna system. (Of all the subsystems in the spacecraft, that antenna seemed to face perhaps the toughest technical and schedule problems.) On December 14, 1967, Rees had visited the subcontractor's plant (Dalmo Victor) at Belmont, Calif., and had heard optimistic status reports on the entire system, including quality control and delivery schedules. Shortly thereafter, when Dalmo Victor began quality testing, the company encountered serious technical difficulties and the delivery schedule, as Rees put it, "collapsed completely." He then recounted several efforts by analytical teams to pinpoint the technical problems and to put the program back into shape (including reviews in mid-February and again on March 1, when very little progress could be seen). This record of inability to remedy technical problems, said Rees, indicated a serious weakness among Apollo contractors regarding visibility of their programs as well as their analytical engineering capability.
Eberhard F. M. Rees, Director of the Apollo Special Task Team at North American Rockwell, wrote to the company's CSM Program Manager Dale D. Myers to express his concern over persistent problems with leaks in the ball valves for the service propulsion system. Rees doubted that any real progress was being made, stating that the problem persisted despite relaxations in leakage criteria and that qualification failures continued to occur. Rees described a review of the program on March 18 at Aerojet-General Corp. as lacking in factual depth. Also, the company did not appear to be pursuing developmental testing of configurational changes with any degree of vigor. Rees suggested to Myers that his people were on the right track and with management attention the vendor's efforts could be channeled to get some genuine results.
Eberhard F. M. Rees, Director of the Special Task Team at North American Rockwell, spearheaded a design review of the CM water sterilization system at Downey, Calif. (The review had resulted as an action item from the March 21 Configuration Control Board meeting in Downey.) Rees and a team of North American engineers reviewed the design of the system and test results and problems to date. Chief among performance concerns seemed to be compatibility of the chlorine solution with several materials in the system, maximum allowable concentration of chlorine in the water supply from the medical aspect, and contamination of the system during storage, handling, and filling. Assuming North American's successful completion of qualification testing and attention to the foregoing action items, said Rees, the system design was judged satisfactory.
Eberhard Rees, Director of the Apollo Special Task Team at North American Rockwell, notified the contractor that facilities the team had used at Downey, Calif., were relinquished to the company. Thus ended the mission of the group formed some nine months earlier to oversee the contractor's preparations during the period of adjustment following the Apollo 1 accident.
Dale D. Myers, Apollo CSM Program Manager at North American Rockwell, wrote to CSM Manager Kenneth S. Kleinknecht at MSC to apprise him of the company's response to an earlier review of the CSM subsystems development program. During February a small task team from MSFC, headed by William A. Mrazek, had surveyed the design, manufacture, and checkout of several of the spacecraft's subsystems. Findings of the team had been reviewed with Eberhard F. M. Rees, then at Downey as head of the Apollo Special Task Team. Myers sent Kleinknecht briefing notes of a presentation to Rees and others of the special team describing North American's responses to specific issues raised by Mrazek's group. These issues, Myers reported, had been resolved to the satisfaction of both contractor and customer.
MSC Director Robert R. Gilruth sent Eberhard F. M. Rees, MSFC Deputy Director, his "personal commendation" and appreciation for Rees's leadership of the Apollo Special Task Team and its efforts to bring the CSM program out of the difficult period early in 1967. The work of Rees and his group, said Gilruth, had made an outstanding contribution to the Apollo program and had given NASA management "a significantly higher level of technical confidence" that the Block II spacecraft could safely perform its mission. In addition, Gilruth noted, Rees's "diplomacy in interfacing with North American management also created a much better NASA-contractor relationship and mutual understanding of program technical requirements."