Stephen G. Bales

 
 

  Stephen is best known as the Guidance Officer in NASA’s Mission Control that saved the first landing on the moon. Stephen G. Bales was born in Ottumwa, Iowa on October 7, 1942.  His interest and career in space were most of all sparked by watching the Wonderful World of Disney’s program on the future of space travel. Three Days before Stephen’s 15th birthday the Soviet Union launched Sputnik and like most folks of that era got caught up in the implications of the event.  This led to Stephen’s decision to study Aeronautical Engineering and was accepted into Iowa State’s Aeronautical Engineering program, during which time JFK made his famous speeches (ask not what you can do for your country…. and the goal of going to the moon before the decade was out).  During this time, John Glenn made his famous flight in 1962 leading to Stephen’s decision to apply for an internship with NASA, with applications submitted to Houston and the Kennedy Space Center. He served a summer as an intern with Mission Control leading to a career with NASA spanning 32 years. His accomplishments at NASA included:

  • Project Gemini “Guidance Officer” serving as backup controller for Gemini 3 and 4; and primary mission controller for Gemini 10.
  • Apollo program “Guidance Officer” who most notably was responsible for the first Lunar Landing where a series of problems would have led to a dangerous abort of the landing.  Stephen and his “Back Room” team quickly and correctly processed these series of alerts. What they learned from this first landing allowed for a pinpoint landing by the next mission. Apollo 12 landed in the vicinity of the unmanned Surveyor 3 spacecraft which had arrived two years prior.
  • Division Chief of Systems Division
  • Assistant Director of Missions Operations
  • Deputy Director of Operations at Johnson Space Center leading development of a new Mission Control
Stephen has received numerous honors and awards during his career and also has been featured in many books, documentaries, as well as feature films concerning the moon landings. He married Sandra J. Belinsky and they have two sons, David and Jonathan.