Dr. Floyd LaVerne Thompson is Director, Langley Research Center, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Hampton, Virginia. He plans and directs research designed to provide the science and technology for a variety of important aeronautical and space programs, including the national effort to land a man on the moon and safely return him to earth. He guided research leading to a number of programs of world importance including Project Mercury, the concept of erectable space vehicles which led to the development of the world's first passive communications satellite, and the first solid fueled launch vehicle to propel a satellite into orbit.
Dr. Thompson was born in Salem, Michigan, November 25, 1898; graduated from high school in Salem in 1917 and served the following four years in the United States Navy. After his war service, he entered the University of Michigan and was awarded a B.S. Degree in Aeronautical Engineering in June 1926.
He began his science career July 8, 1926, as a member of the staff of the Langley Research Center of the former National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, nucleus of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Starting as an aeronautical engineer in the Flight Research Division, he progressed through various assignments to Chief of Reseach in 1945. He was appointed Associate Director in charge of all research September 14, 1952, and in May 1960, became Director of the Center. In addition to his duties as Langley Director, Dr. Thompson completed a two-year period of service as Chairman of the Policy Planning Board at NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C.
He is the author or co-author of 20 technical reports based on research he conducted. He has lectured and participated in a number of technical conferences conducted by NASA, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the Society of Automotive Engineers and many other professional organizations. Dr. Thompson was elected in 1949 as a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. He is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Dr. Thompson was cited by the University of Michigan in 1953 as a distinguished alumnus in recognition of his outstanding career in the flight sciences and honored him again in June 1963 by awarding him the honorary degree of Doctor of Science. The college of William and Mary awarded him the honorary degree of Doctor of Science in June 1963.
In May 1963, the President of the United States presented the NASA Medal of Outstanding Leadership to Dr. Thompson at ceremonies at the White House. He was honored by NASA "for his outstanding leadership of the scientists and engineers who were responsible for the original technical concepts and who comprised the nucleus of the development team for the space flight missions of the United States in Project Mercury."
Active in civic affairs in Hampton, Virginia, and surrounding communities, Dr. Thompson is a member of the Hampton Rotary Club and the Board of Trustees of the Dixie Hospital. He is an honorary member of the Board of Directors of the Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce, a trustee of The War Memorial Museum of Virginia, and an honorary life member of the Engineers' Club of the Virginia Peninsula.
Dr. Thompson lives at 94 Alleghany Road, Hampton, with his wife - the former Jean Geggie of Hampton. They have three daughters.
Updated February 3, 2003
Steve Garber, NASA History Web Curator
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