Mr. James W. Plummer
Mr. James W. Plummer Draper Prize
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  • Draper
Awards
Charles Stark Draper Prize for Engineering
Go To Award
Biography

James W. Plummer was the Corona Program Manager at Lockheed Corporation, Division of Missiles and Space Company, and served as the overall systems engineer for Corona.

At the start of the program, Mr. Plummer was directed to establish an off-site facility to build and launch, within a period of nine months, a satellite borne camera and physical recovery system. The first spin stabilized system given the team was discarded in a short time in favor of a satellite using U.S. Air Force (USAF) assets under development at Lockheed, later known as the Agena. Major subcontractors were engaged in the project: General Electric for the recovery capsule, Itek Corporation for the camera, and Eastman Kodak Company for the film development.

Another key factor in the success of the Corona program was its management system, which has been proven to work in other special development projects, because it provided the program manager with complete responsibility for performance, cost, and schedule. Additionally, in this streamlined management system, reporting lines were restricted to the program directors only. No outside agencies were given access to the data.

Mr. Plummer has also served as Under Secretary of the U.S. Air Force, Director of the National Reconnaissance Office, Vice President of Lockheed Corporation, and as Chairman of The Aerospace Corporation. He was designated as a Space and Missile Pioneer by the U.S. Air Force in 1989 and was honored by the Director of Central Intelligence as a Corona Pioneer in 1995. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and Honorary Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

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Awards
  • Draper
  • 2005
  • For the design, development, and operation of Corona, the first space-based Earth observation system.