Jack Langford Warren, 1941–2023

Jack Langford Warren

Credit: Dignity Memorial.

Jack Langford Warren, who played an important role in the curatorial and clean room facilities at the Johnson Space Center (JSC; formerly called the Manned Spacecraft Center) during the Apollo program, lost his battle with cancer on February 1, 2023.

Warren was born in Beaumont, Texas, and at the age of 17, while still in high school, began working on workover rigs in the oilfield, eventually becoming a derrick man. This work experience proved to be an important reason why he was hired by Brown & Root-Northrop in 1966 to work in the newly created facilities in Building 32 at JSC. The vacuum chamber created for the Apollo spacecraft was seven stories tall, and the engineers recognized that the type of mechanical engineering experience gained from working on small platforms 60 to 90 feet above the ground with just a rigging belt would be perfect for the work to be performed for the Apollo mission.

After working in Building 32 for a year, Warren was transferred to the Building 36 clean room, which at the time was the largest laminar flow clean room in the world. After working there for a few months, he was transferred to Building 37, the Lunar Receiving Laboratory, where he had the honor of getting to open the first box of Moon rocks brought back to Earth in 1969. In his 45-year career at JSC, Warren also participated in other space missions, including the Cosmic Dust Project, Genesis Project, Stardust Project, Muir Project, and others. One of the highlights of his career came when Stephen Hawking asked to see the lab that handled the Stardust samples.

Warren was recognized by NASA in 2012 for Exceptional Public Service. For more information about his fascinating experiences during the Apollo years, read the interview conducted with him in 2008 as part of NASA’s Oral History Project: https://historycollection.jsc.nasa.gov/JSCHistoryPortal/history/oral_histories/WarrenJL/WarrenJL_8-12-08.htm.

— Portions of text courtesy of NASA