Spaceflight Now Home

Spaceflight Now +

Premium video content for our Spaceflight Now Plus subscribers.

Supply ship docking
The 18th Progress resupply ship launched to the International Space Station is guided to docking with the Zvezda service module's aft port via manual control from commander Sergei Krikalev. A problem thwarted plans for an automated linkup.

 Play video:
   Short | Extended version

Shuttle collection
As excitement builds for the first space shuttle launch in over two years, this comprehensive video selection captures the major pre-flight events for Discovery and her seven astronauts.
 See selection

House hearing on ISS
The House Science Committee, Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics, begins its hearing on the International Space Station. (29min 59sec file)
 Play video

Phillips testifies
House members question Expedition 11 crew member John Phillips living on the International Space Station. (16min 33sec file)
 Play video

Past ISS astronauts
The hearing continues with questioning by House members of former station astronauts Peggy Whitson and Mike Fincke. (31min 33sec file)
 Play video

Station update
A status report on the Expedition 11 crew's mission aboard the International Space Station is given during this news conference Monday. (55min 54sec file)

 Play video:
   Dial-up | Broadband

Tropical Storm Arlene
A camera on the International Space Station captured this view of Tropical Storm Arlene moving into the Gulf of Mexico as the orbiting complex flew above the weather system at 2:33 p.m. EDT on Friday, June 10. (3min 06sec file)
 Play video

Become a subscriber
More video

Architect of Air Force space and missile programs dies
Posted: June 21, 2005

Retired Gen. Bernard Adolph Schriever, widely regarded as the father and architect of the Air Force space and ballistic missile programs, died of natural causes at home in Washington on June 20.

General Bernard Schriever is presented with the new Space Badge on May 25, 2005 in Washington D.C. by General Lance W. Lord, Commander, Air Force Space Command. Photo: Ron Hall
Under General Schriever's leadership, the Air Force developed programs such as the Thor, Atlas, Titan and Minuteman missiles, and all aerospace systems that have been launched into orbit, including those supporting NASA in its Mercury man-in-space program.

General Schriever was born in 1910 in Bremen, Germany, and immigrated to the United States in 1917 with his parents. He began his military career in the Army field artillery, but later earned his wings and a commission in the Army Air Corps in 1933 at Kelly Field, Texas.

During World War II, then-Major Schriever served in the Pacific with the 19th Bomb Group, taking part in the Bismarck Archipelago, Leyte, Luzon, Papua, North Solomon, South Philippine and Ryukyu campaigns. By the end of the war he was commanding officer of advanced headquarters for Far East Air Service Command which supported theater operations from bases in Hollandia, New Guinea, the Philippines and Okinawa.

After the war, General Schriever was assigned to the Pentagon where he later recounted the interest by military and civilian leaders concerning the feasibility of reconnaissance satellites, especially as the nuclear age began.

"Pearl Harbor had really given us a shock, especially because of the amount of damage inflicted by that surprise attack," General Schriever said during a 1998 interview. "President Eisenhower wanted us to determine how we could best get strategic intelligence to avoid a nuclear Pearl Harbor. That was the deciding issue in putting the Air Force into the space business."

Space took center stage Oct. 4, 1957, when the former Soviet Union launched the Sputnik satellite. The Air Force responded by sending Discovery One into orbit Feb. 28, 1959.

The race to space included many successes and failures for both the ICBM and satellite programs. But General Schriever said he and his group accepted that they were taking risks because they knew if they did not develop an ICBM long-range capability and satellite reconnaissance system, there would be a major instability in the strategic balance between the U.S. and Soviet Union.

"We never lost confidence, even when we had failures, which we had plenty of in the early days," General Schriever said. "Not a single program missed its target date of reaching operational capability. Of course there were concerns, but we met them every time."

In 1959, General Schriever assumed command of Air Research and Development Command, which later became Air Force Systems Command on April 1, 1961, under a reorganization initiated by him. He was promoted to full general in 1961 and retired in 1966.

We Walked With a Legend
By General Lance W. Lord, Commander of Air Force Space Command
"In a world where it is so easy to marvel at the achievements of athletes or movie stars we sometimes miss the more monumental events of our time. These colossal events and people will go down in history because they fundamentally changed our world and the way we live. The life and accomplishments of General Bennie Schriever fits into this category.

"For 94 years, we were privileged to share the world with a visionary leader whose achievements will stand the test of time with those of Giulio Douhet, Alfred Mahan, Sylvanus Thayer, Hap Arnold, and Billy Mitchell. A true American story, General Schriever immigrated, with his family, to our shores as a young boy in 1917. He went on to earn degrees from Texas A&M and Stanford before joining the Army Air Corps. He would realize his true calling though as Commander of the Air Force Western Development Division during the 1950s.

"On numerous occasions, General Schriever was the lone voice advocating for the space and missile capabilities that many now take for granted. Like Billy Mitchell and so many other pioneers, he was chastised for his outspokenness. He talked openly of Space Supremacy and Space Superiority well before the launch of Sputnik. Following one notable speech, the Secretary of Defense admonished him, "do not use 'Space' in any of your speeches in the future." After the first Soviet space launch in October 1957, everything changed.

"When the Nation needed him he delivered in the clutch. Future historians will look back upon the Cold War and point to General Bennie Schriever as a decisive factor in our victory. General Schriever was there when this Nation needed a measured response to Sputnik. Later on, President Kennedy was able to stand toe-to-toe with Premier Khrushchev during the Cuban Missile Crisis because of General Schriever's leadership. His determination spearheaded the development of the Minuteman missile system in less than five years and he had the system deployed in its silos by 1962. President Kennedy would later say the ICBM was his, "ace in the hole."

"Today, many of the technologies once championed by General Schriever are still the bedrock of our Nation's space capabilities. Where would we be without General Schriever? Technologically, it's accurate to say we would be decades behind where we are now.

"Just a couple of weeks ago, I had the honor of presenting General Schriever with the first new "Space Badge," that will soon be worn by space and missile warriors around the world. The General's strength was leaving him as was his voice. However, the spark in his eyes could not be diminished by his failing health. The look on his face as his eyes lit up with pride reassured me that he fully appreciated the moment and its significance. This was indeed a fitting tribute to the father of our nation's space and missile forces. General Schriever will continue to be a role model for me and for so many others.

"In 1962, General of the Army Douglas MacArthur delivered his now famous "Duty, Honor, Country" address, to the Corps of Cadets at West Point. General MacArthur stated, "You now face a new world, a world of change. The thrust into outer space of the satellite, spheres and missiles marked the beginning of another epoch in the long story of mankind; the chapter of the space age. In the five or more billions of years the scientists tell us it has taken to form the earth, in the three or more billion years of development of the human race, there has never been a greater, a more abrupt or staggering evolution. We deal now not with things of this world alone, but with the illimitable distances and as yet unfathomed mysteries of the universe." Standing on the fulcrum of mankind's greatest era of discovery stood General Bennie Schriever. Generations from now, those who wear the uniform of our armed services will regard us with envy, for we had the opportunity to walk with and stand watch with a legend.

"Beccy and I join the nearly 40,000 men and women of Air Force Space Command in sending our condolences to General Schriever's wife Joni and their family. We cherish their friendship and will forever consider them a part of our Air Force Space Command family."