Robert L. Crabtree was born on September 21, 1926 in Elgin Illinois. He passed away September 19th, 2010 at Verdugo Hills Hospital, at the age of 83.
Bob graduated from Crystal Lake High School, served honorably in the U.S. Army Air Corps during WW II, and went on to graduate from Denver University with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering in 1952.
He worked as an engineer with Honeywell in Minneapolis, and then moved his family to Southern California in 1960 to work at Pasadena’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, for 32 years. At JPL, he contributed significantly in the “Race for Space”, first as Test and Operations Manager for the Ranger Project which sent back the first high-resolution photographs of the Moon’s surface. From 1965 to 1968, he was manager of the Systems Test and Launch Operations for the Surveyor project which achieved the first soft-landing of a spacecraft on the Moon. From 1968 to 1977 he served on the Mercury and Viking Projects, most notably as Deputy Mission Director for Viking, which successfully landed the first two spacecraft on Mars, and continued to send back data and photographs for over six years. In the early 1980s, Bob contributed to a number of projects for the U.S. Army, and then from 1987 to 1992 he was Manager for JPL’s Assessment and Technology Programs. He retired in 1992.