Donald Atwood

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Person.png Donald Atwood  Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Donald J. Atwood, Jr.jpg
BornDonald Jesse Atwood Jr.
May 25, 1924
Haverhill, Massachusetts, United States
DiedApril 24, 1994 (Age 69)
Royal Oak, Michigan, USA
Alma materWorcester Academy, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
American business executive who had a major involvement in the Apollo program. Later George H.W.'s Deputy Secretary of Defense

Employment.png United States Deputy Secretary of Defense

In office
April 24, 1989 - January 20, 1993
Succeeded byWilliam Perry

Donald Jesse Atwood Jr. was an American business executive who had a major involvement in the Apollo program, the moon landing project. He was appointed Deputy Secretary of Defense for U.S. President George H. W. Bush in 1989.[1]

Official narrative

Atwood wrote the proposal and directed the organization that developed and built the Apollo guidance system.[2] Atwood was involved with NASA at the launches at Cape Kennedy, led the negotiations for getting contracts and had total management responsibility.

Problems with offical narrative

If the moon landings were a hoax, (see Document:Wagging the Moondoggie and Apollo program), it would mean Atwood might have been one of the few people in the know.


The son of a grocer, Atwood was born May 25, 1924, in Haverhill, Massachusetts. Following high school, Atwood was sent to Worcester Academy, a one-year college preparatory school. There he became interested in things technical. Atwood attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), with an interruption of service in Burma with the U.S. Army Signal Corps from 1943 to 1946.


Atwood was research associate in MIT's Instrumentation Laboratory from 1948 to 1952. The head of the instrumentation lab was Dr. C. Stark Draper, the father of inertial guidance and navigation. Under Draper, Atwood contributed numerous patents to the science and became an expert in navigation and guidance electronics and systems engineering.

In 1952, Atwood and an associate, Fred Best, founded Dynatrol Corporation, a research company that developed and built inertial navigation and guidance systems for ballistic missiles. Atwood was vice-president and treasurer of Dynatrol from 1952 to 1959. In 1959 General Motors purchased the company, including 50 employees along with Atwood to obtain the valuable navigation and guidance system technology.

Atwood was named associate director of the Boston Research and Development Laboratory of AC Spark Plug Division of General Motors (AC Delco) after the purchase. In 1961, Atwood was appointed director of engineering of Milwaukee operations of AC Spark Plug. The Apollo Program in Milwaukee, Wisconsin were the glory years for Atwood. He had led the proposal team and as director of engineering and operations, he oversaw the Apollo program at AC Spark Plug. The program included a guidance and navigation system, an optical system, and a computer. Atwood's organization became the prime contractor.

US Defense Department

On January 26, 1989, President George H. W. Bush named Atwood to the No. 2 job in the US Defense Department. Atwood's management and scientific skills were thought to be a complement to those of the Defense Secretary appointed, John G. Tower, who was expected to play a political and policy-setting role.[3] Atwood served in this post for the four years with Dick Cheney as Defense Secretary. He returned to private life in the spring of 1993.

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  1. Donald J. Atwood, 1924-1994, By B. Paul Blasingame, National Academy of Engineering (NAE) Memorial Tributes: National Academy of Engineering, Volume 8 (1996), Pages 10-14 [1]
  2. The House that Atwood Built, Electron, Volume 2 Number 1, Spring 1989, pages 2-7
  3. MAN IN THE NEWS: Donald Jesse Atwood; Manager for Pentagon, The New York Times, January 26, 1989 [2]