Wednesday, November 17, 2010

My Cousin, Robert Truax, Top Rocket Scientist

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A headline in the New York Times September 29, 2010 said “Robert Truax, a Top Rocket Scientist, Is Dead at 93.” That article caught my attention because I have a 4th great grandmother named Sarah Truax (1775-1850).

Truax, Robt. As I read the information about Robert, this is what I learned: “Mr. Truax was one of the premier rocket scientists of the 20th century. He was a career naval officer lent to the Air Force for top-secret projects, and later was a corporate aerospace executive and an entrepreneur. His early research for the Navy laid the foundation for the liquid-propelled rockets that are the centerpiece of American space efforts, and he was a leader in developing the Thor, Viking and Polaris missile programs.

When Wernher von Braun and other German rocket experts came to the United States, Mr. Truax led the team that debriefed them. As president of the American Rocket Society, he was an early, vigorous advocate of the American space program.

The Encyclopedia Astronautica called him “one of the great originals of American rocketry.” In an interview, Rick W. Sturdevant, an Air Force historian, called him “an artist when it came to rocketry.”

In 1953, he developed a concept for putting long-range missiles on submarines. Some say the Polaris missile emerged from this work.

Mr. Truax was more modest: “I just like to go out and play with rockets.” Truax, Robert

Robert Collins Truax’s 7th great grandparents, Philippe Antoine DuTrieux and Susanna du Chesne are my 9th great grandparents. So Robert is my 8th cousin, twice removed. It’s always nice to be able to learn more about a cousin by reading a published article in the New York Times.

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