Texas Tech University

Distinguished Engineer Citations

Distinguished Engineer Photo: Joe D. Gamble
Joe D. Gamble

Joe D. Gamble

Distinguished Engineer



B.S., M.S., Civil Engineering – 1962, 1963



At Time of Nomination in 2013

Joe Gamble received a bachelor of science and a master of science in civil engineering from Texas Tech University in 1962 and 1963, respectively. He was privileged to be a student in one of Dr. James Murdough's final concrete classes and had several classes with Dr. Ernst Kiesling in the first master's class in civil engineering.

Following graduation, Gamble accepted a position at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston with the group responsible for the aerodynamics and flight mechanics analysis for human spacecraft.

Gamble supported the Gemini and Apollo programs and performed simulations and analyses of the Apollo launch escape system and entry capsule. Gamble was a member of the team responsible for development and verification of the Space Shuttle Orbiter entry flight control system and worked closely with the first four space shuttle crews during their training process. Gamble was also a member of the Mission Control Center Aero team for the first four flights and served as a subsystems manager for the Space Shuttle Orbiter. In 2012, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics selected a paper written by Gamble in 1982 as the most influential paper in the space shuttle category for the decade of the 1980's.

Gamble later served four years as NASA's Chief Engineer for the Assured Crew Return Vehicle (ACRV) project where he directed a team of NASA engineers and served as the engineering manager for contracts with U.S. companies. After the U.S. decided to use the Russian Soyuz vehicle for the space station rescue vehicle, Gamble managed the engineering portion of the ACRV contract with RSC-Energia for a modified Soyuz vehicle that met NASA's requirements. During numerous trips to Moscow, Gamble negotiated with the Russian managers regarding required modifications to the Soyuz vehicle, which is still being used as the space station rescue vehicle until the U.S. develops its own vehicle.

After retiring from NASA, Gamble accepted a position as a consultant with MEI Technologies in Houston, where he has continued to support the Johnson Space Center. Gamble is currently helping NASA's Orion Program to develop a vehicle to transport astronauts to the space station and for deep space exploration.

Additionally, Gamble was a member of the Guidance and Control Team for the Columbia Accident Investigation Board, performing simulations and analyses to reconstruct the probable vehicle dynamics during the loss of communications that occurred for approximately 30 seconds prior to vehicle breakup. The reconstructed dynamics scenario has been used for subsequent astronaut trainings.

Gamble has been honored with several NASA awards and has published numerous technical papers.

Gamble is an active member of his church in Friendswood, Texas and has served as a leader in scouting and Little League sports.

Gamble and his wife Jane are avid supporters of Texas Tech athletics and have attended almost all of the football games for the past 15 years. They have two sons, Joel and David; a daughter-in-law, Melanie; and two granddaughters, Holly and Clara. Gamble's dad Clyde and sister and brother-in-law Charlotte and Bob Johnson still reside in Lubbock.

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