More Recent Photo

Yearbook Photo

Colonel Donald D. Mueller

Colonel Donald Mueller USAF Ret. (June 1951) was commissioned in the Air Force upon graduating from the University of Illinois. He entered flight training at Bartow Air Base, Florida where he soloed in the T-34 and the T-28. Jet training in the T-33 followed at Laredo AFB and then advanced fighter training at Williams AFB and Nellis AFB in theF-86 and the supersonic F-100. Don entered the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright-Patterson AFB and earned a Master’s Degree “With Distinction” in Astronautical  Engineering in 1961. He was assigned to the ”zero gravity” research program  and was the first to recognize and warn NASA of the dangers associated with tethering an extra-vehicular astronaut. Werner Von Braun had commented at a briefing that a tethered astronaut who was in trouble could be reeled in like a fish. Mueller’s computer simulation of this scenario showed that it would likely injure or kill the astronaut. Mueller was asked to design and conduct a ”weightless” training program aboard the Zero-G airplane for the Gemini and Apollo programs. He worked with Neil Armstrong, Jim Lovell. Frank Borman and others who had “The Right Stuff”. His work  for the space program earned him the Air Force nomination for the U.S. Jr. Chamber of Commerce “Ten Outstanding Young Men of 1963” award. That same year he was awarded the First Annual  Human Engineering Award by the Air Force Aerospace Medical Research Laboratories for original research on the weightless environment of space. In 1963 Don started teaching in the Astronautics Department of the Air Force Academy and wrote and  illustrated “Fundamentals of Astrodynamics”  which will be released in it’s second edition in July of 2015. After assignments in Las Vegas, Air War College in Montgomery, AL., and a year in Saigon he headed the AFROTC program at the University of Pittsburgh.  Don retired from the Air Force in 1977 and then taught for the next twenty years in the Solar Engineering and Physics Departments of Colorado Technical university. Space pioneer, jet fighter pilot, educator, author:  That’s Hall of Fame member Donald Mueller.

DOD: January 30, 2022 in Colorado (he donated his body to science)

<< Back to The Hall Of Fame