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Allen, Lew (JPL Director)



  • Existence: 1926 - 2010


Background: Vice President and Director of Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 1982-1991.


Description: Lew Allen was born in Texas, attended West Point during World War II, and later received his PhD in physics at the University of Illinois (1954). After working as a research physicist at Los Alamos, he held several positions in space technology under the Secretary of Defense. In 1977 he was promoted to commander of the Air Force Systems Command and to the rank of general. In 1978 he became air force chief of staff, serving then on the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Carter and Reagan presidential administrations. He was chosen to succeed Bruce Murray as director of JPL in 1982.


Collection Notes: Oral History 1991 and 1994. A 55-page account with interviewer Heidi Aspaturian that tells Allen's career history in two parts. The first segment (1991) brings him to JPL and covers the very beginning of his tenure there, particularly the issues associated with his transition from the military into the civilian space program. The second part (1994) continues the story of his directorship of JPL, space missions and projects, and the US space program in general.

Found in 10 Collections and/or Records:

Airtalk: The Caltech Edition

 Unprocessed Material
Identifier: 1990-00004

Airtalk: The Caltech Edition

 Unprocessed Material
Identifier: 1990-00005

AirTalk with Lew Allen, Jr.

 Digital Record
Identifier: 2018-02-01-000007

AirTalk with Lew Allen, Jr., 1990-09-19

Scope and Contents From the Collection: The collection is divided according to the recording type: audio and video then ordered chronologically. Each recording includes an interview with either Caltech faculty, administrators, staff, students, alumni, JPL scientists or administrators. It also includes features such as Caltech Almanac -a detailed look at some of the many interesting people, places and discoveries in Caltech’s history-, Caltech Calendar -a listing of upcoming public events on campus- and Caltech in the News....
Dates: 1990-09-19

Interview with Lew Allen, Jr., 1991-06-10 - 1994-04-04, 1999

Scope and Contents An interview in four sessions, in June and July 1991 and March and April 1994, with Lew Allen, Jr., former director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (1982-1990) during a period that included the launches of Galileo to Jupiter, Magellan to Venus, and IRAS, the Infrared Astronomical Satellite, as well as Voyager 2’s Uranus and Neptune flybys. He recalls matriculation at West Point in 1943, receiving flight training, graduating in 1946. Four years in the Strategic Air Command studying...
Dates: 1991-06-10 - 1994-04-04; Publication: 1999

JPL Now & The Future

 Unprocessed Material
Identifier: 1986-00011

Additional filters:

Archival Object 5
Unprocessed Material 4
Digital Record 1
Jet Propulsion Laboratory 4
AirTalk 3
Alumni Day 1
Chapters in Aerospace History 1
Outer space--Exploration 1