Former NASA administrator James M. Beggs, who led the agency during the early years of the space shuttle program and resigned after the 1986 Challenger disaster killed seven astronauts, died Thursday at his home in Bethesda, Maryland. He was 94. According to one of his sons, Charles Beggs, congestive heart failure is suspected to be the cause of death.
President Ronald Reagan has nominated Beggs as the sixth director of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. He held the top position of the agency from July 1981 to December 1985. Beggs was on leave from the post when the Challenger Space Shuttle broke up 73 seconds after its launch on January 28, 1986, with all seven astronauts on board, including New Hampshire, perished. school teacher Christa McAuliffe.
Beggs’ resignation came into effect almost a month later. His son, Charles Beggs, remembers asking his father why he resigned years later. He said his father told him that NASA should continue with disastrous leadership that he could not foresee under the circumstances.
“Instead of insisting, he resigned from the organization,” said Charles Beggs. & # 39; It wasn’t about him. It was about others. & # 39; Charles Beggs said his father was proud to receive a NASA award named after Robert Goddard, a missile pioneer.
NASA had over 20 successful space shuttle missions during Begg’s tenure. The Washington Post described him as a popular and charismatic figure skilled in dealing with lawmakers on Capitol Hill. “It’s impossible to say where our vision and imagination will lead us once we have the space station,” he said in 1985, the newspaper said. “As Shakespeare put it, ‘Thoughts are just dreams until their effects are tried out.'” NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said Beggs’ work on the space shuttle program helped NASA “open a whole new era of exploration.” “We continue to build on his legacy today as we take advantage of our long-standing Earth orbit presence to travel further and seed an entirely new segment of the economy through the innovations of commercial partners,” Bridenstine said in a statement.
Born in Pittsburgh, Beggs graduated from the US Naval Academy in 1947 and served in the Navy until 1954. He was an executive vice president and a director of General Dynamics Corp. before he became a NASA administrator. Beggs took leave as a NASA administrator after he was charged with federal charges that he and three other General Dynamics executives had wrongfully billed the government. All charges were dropped in 1987.
An evaluation by the Justice Department found that no laws had been broken. The then Attorney General Edwin Meese III sent a written apology to the prosecution of Beggs. Beggs worked as a Maryland-based consultant after leaving NASA. He had five children with his 62-year-old wife, Mary Harrison Beggs, who died in 2015.