Courtesy Stan Barauskas
Retiring Boeing engineer Stan Barauskas and Wernher von Braun (R) in an undated photo.
When the Space Shuttle program ends this month, a lot of careers will end as well. One of them is a man whose career spans 50 years of the U.S. space program, Boeing engineer Stan Barauskas, who worked on the Shuttle during the entire 38 years of the program, and on Apollo before that. After he retires, he’ll be active with the Aerospace Legacy Foundation in Downey. He talked with John Rabe, host of Off-Ramp.
Barauskas is an immigrant whose family fled Lithuania into Germany after Germany and Russian divided the country during the war. They spent three years in a refugee camp in Germany after World War II waiting for permission to come to the U.S.
Barauskas was supposed to be laid off from Rockwell in December 1971 (as Apollo was winding down in the years after the 1969 moon landing). But he’s a canny fellow, and when his layoff note came telling him to report to HR for his termination interview, he instead took vacation leave, frantically searching during those weeks for a job in the So Cal aerospace and defense industry. In his second week of vacation, he got called to do a temporary assignment at Rockwell, which turned into a six month project. By then, Rockwell had been awarded the Shuttle contract, and he was set for the next 38 years.