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Flight Award by the American Astronautical Society (1968), the ASME Medal from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (1970), the James Watt International Medal from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (1971), the National Aviation Club Award for Achievement (1971), and the Robert Collier Trophy of the National Aeronautic Association and the National Aviation Club (1972). Gilruth was one of the first 10 persons installed in the National Space Hall of Fame (1969) and one of 35 space pioneers inducted into the International Space Hall of Fame (1975). He received the NASA Distinguished Service Medals in 1962 and 1969 and the President’s Award for Distinguished Federal Civilian Service in 1962. Honorary doctors were awarded to Gilruth from the University of Minnesota (1962), Indiana Institute of Technology (1962), George Washington University (1962), Michigan Technological University (1963), and New Mexico State University (1970).

Robert Gilruth’s achievements and life history are simple enough to trace; however, his effects on people were deep and continuing. He was such an interesting personality, a beautiful man, a true leader, and a mentor. When I succeeded Bob as director of the Johnson Space Center, I was fully ready. No one could have prepared me better.

Note: The quotes from Bob Gilruth’s colleagues are from the Johnson Space Center’s Oral History Project. They, along with Gilruth’s own interviews conducted for the National Air and Space Museum, were the major resources in compiling this tribute.



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