- Press Release
- Nov 29, 2022
Dr. Earle Knowlen Huckins III, Manager of Space Science and Space Station Programs and NASA HQ , dies at 59
Dr. Earle K. Huckins III, 59, a top manager for the Office of
Space Science at NASA Headquarters in Washington died July 22 at
his home in Centreville, Va., of complications from amyotrophic
lateral sclerosis, often called ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease.
From February 1996, until November 2001, he served as the Deputy
Associate Administrator for Space Science at Headquarters,
responsible for the executive direction of NASA’s space science
flight program including missions such as the Hubble Space
Telescope, the Chandra X-ray Telescope, planetary missions
including Mars Pathfinder, Mars Global Surveyor, Mars Odyssey,
the Galileo mission to Jupiter and the Cassini mission to Saturn.
During his tenure as deputy, he oversaw the successful launch of
25 space missions. He was also responsible for the overall
contract management of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL),
Pasadena, Calif. He resigned as deputy in November 2001 because
of his declining health, but continued working as a special
“Earle had a unique combination of management and engineering
expertise as well as tremendous ‘people’ talents,” said Dr. Ed
Weiler, Associate Administrator of Space Science at Headquarters.
“I relied on Earle’s good sense — and the respect in which he
was held throughout NASA — to solve the most difficult
challenges in managing complex programs. Our thoughts and prayers
are with his wife Cathy and his family.”
Dr. Huckins’ distinguished 40-year career with NASA began in 1962
when he joined the space agency as a student trainee at NASA
Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va. He specialized in the
field of spacecraft dynamics, stability, and control. Dr. Huckins
held various management positions at Langley including Mission
Integration Manager for the Long Duration Exposure Facility
(LDEF) Project, Head of the Large Space Antenna Systems
Technology Office, Manager of the Large Space Structures
Technology Program, and Deputy Manager of the Space Station
Evolutionary Definition Office.
In 1986, Dr. Huckins accepted a temporary assignment as Technical
Assistant to the Associate Administrator for Space Station in
NASA Headquarters in Washington. In 1988, he permanently
transferred to NASA Headquarters as Director of the Strategic
Plans and Programs Division in the Office of Space Station.
Prior to being named as the Deputy Associate Administrator for
Space Science, he was Director, Space Station Engineering in the
Office of Space Systems Development, Chief Engineer in the Office
of Space Flight (including both Space Shuttle and Space Station),
and the Program Director of the Cassini Mission to Saturn in the
Office of Space Science. Just prior to his resignation, he had
led the initial efforts to restructure the Mars Program and
recover from 2 failed missions.
Dr. Huckins received a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering from
Virginia Polytechnic Institute in 1966, a Master of Mechanical
Engineering from North Carolina State University in 1968, and a
Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from Virginia Polytechnic
Institute and State University in 1972. He completed the Program
for Management Development (PMD) at Harvard University Graduate
School of Business Administration under a NASA fellowship in
1984. Dr. Huckins received two NASA Distinguished Service Medals,
a NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, a NASA Exceptional Service
Medal, Presidential Rank Awards of Meritorious and Distinguished
Executive, a Creative Management Award, and numerous Special
Achievement Awards. In 2001, the NASA JPL named an Asteroid in
his honor. He was an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of
Aeronautics and Astronautics, and a member of the International
Academy of Astronautics.
Dr. Huckins was born, in Newport News, Va., went to high school
at Warwick High School in Newport News, and he and his family
lived in Williamsburg, Va. prior to moving to Centreville, Va.
A viewing will be held at Demaine Funeral Home, Springfield, Va.
on Thursday, July 25, from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. EDT and 7:00
p.m. to 9:00 p.m. EDT. The funeral service will be conducted at
Saint John’s Episcopal Church at Lafayette Square in Washington
on July 26 at 1:30 p.m. EDT. A burial service will be held at the
gravesite in Newport News, Va. on July 27 at 1:00 p.m. EDT. The
family has requested that contributions be made to the ALS
Association-National Capital Area Chapter
He is survived by his wife, Cathy L. Huckins, of Centreville; a
daughter, Christine G. H. Franck, of New York City; 2 sons, Scott
K. Huckins of Seattle and Brian T. Huckins, of Haymarket, Va.; a
granddaughter, Kelsey T. Huckins, and a forthcoming grandson
Connor K. Huckins, of Haymarket. He is also survived by 3
sisters, Beverly Huckins of Moodus, Ct; Katherine Benefield of
Visalia, Calif; Carol Sise of Elkton, MD; and two brothers, David
Huckins of Monongah, W.Va. and Paul Huckins of Gordonsville, Va.