Portrait of Ralph Ragan

Ralph Ragan

Apollo Guidance System Guru

Ralph Ragan received a bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering from Iowa State University and a master's degree in Aeronautics from MIT. When he joined the Instrumentation Laboratory he became Director of Development of the Polaris Missile Inertial Guidance Program. In 1966, he was appointed Deputy Director of the Lab’s NASA projects, putting him in charge of operations for the development of the Apollo Primary Guidance, Navigation, and Control System. Ragan was in the control room of the Manned Space Flight Center in Houston, Texas on July 20, 1969 during the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Ragan was awarded NASA’s Distinguished Public Service Award along with Draper and Hoag in 1969. He also served as the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets and as Vice President of Publications for the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. Ragan retired from Draper in 1987 and spent the subsequent years traveling the United States with his wife.