Skip to main content

Larry E. Bell

Larry Bell
Larry E. Bell

Distinguished Engineer

Hometown: Doland

Civil Engineering ,

After earning his degree from South Dakota State University, Larry Bell took a job as an engineer for the Atlas intercontinental missile propellant loading system with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska. In 1962, Bell moved to the Houston area to begin work with NASA. His initial position was environmental control systems manager in the Gemini Support Office. His 32-year career took him from managing the crash program for the first spacewalk of a U.S. astronaut in 1965 to managing the complex integration of each Space Shuttle Orbiter with its cargo launch from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The U.S. created a task force to incorporate a spacewalk in the planned June 1965 launch of Gemini IV. Bell was picked to head a group of 18 engineers for the secret mission to design, build and test the equipment required for that first spacewalk. That program, earned Bell a Group Achievement Award as project engineer. Bell was lead engineer for NASA’s backroom support of the flight controller for the Gemini’s environmental control system. In 1966, Bell was made manager of the Gemini Support Office in the crew and thermal system division. From there, he advanced steadily, finally becoming manager of the cargo engineering office in the Space Transportation System Program Office (Space Shuttle). After retiring in 1994, Bell worked as a consultant to an attempted around-the-world balloon flight and to Boeing in its work with Russian space station MIR, then, finally, as a systems specialist on a program studying the microgravity that research payloads would have to deal with on the International Space Station. In 2012, the South Dakota State University Alumni Association recognized him as a Distinguished Alumnus.