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Buzz Aldrin

George Mueller dies at 97; key figure in U.S. quest to land a man on moon

In 1961, President Kennedy outlined a bold plan for America: to land a man on the moon and return him safely to Earth before the end of the decade.

Even for a nation of dreamers and builders, it was an audacious goal. But George Mueller, a quiet, steely engineer who was head of manned space flight at NASA, had an equally audacious solution.

He proposed that NASA abandon its lengthy process of testing rockets one stage at a time in favor of an "all-up" approach — launching all the pieces at once.

"It sounded reckless, but George Mueller's reasoning was impeccable," Wernher von Braun, the German scientist who oversaw the building of the Saturn V...