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Home > Management > MSFC Center Directors Biographical Sketches & Photo Gallery > Dr. Rocco Petrone

Dr. Rocco Petrone
Third Center Director, Jan. 26, 1973 - March 15, 1974

Photo: Dr. Rocco PetroneRocco Petrone (1926- ) graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 1946 and attained the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Army. He also received a master's degree in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1951 and an honorary doctorate from Rollins College.

In the Army, he worked on various missile programs, including the Redstone, the United States' first ballistic missile. Petrone began his NASA career in 1960 when the Army loaned him to NASA to work as Saturn Project Officer at the future Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida.

He was instrumental in the development of the Saturn launch facilities and equipment at KSC that were used to launch Apollo spacecraft to the Moon in the 1960s and early 1970s. Petrone served as Director of Launch Operations at KSC from July 1966 until September 1969.

He was then appointed Apollo Program Director, succeeding Lt. Gen. Samuel Phillips, at NASA Headquarters. In 1972, he was given the additional role of Program Director for the NASA component of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project. Petrone then moved to Alabama to become the director of the Marshall Center in 1973 and 1974.

In 1974, he left the Marshall Center and moved back to Washington, D.C. to become NASA's Associate Administrator. The next year, 1975, Petrone retired from NASA and became the president and chief executive officer of the National Center for Resource Recovery.

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