NASA rocket scientist from East Texas writes memoir

By Lakecia Shockley - bio | email

WHITE OAK, TX (KLTV) - James David Alexander worked for NASA for more than 30 years and just got back from the 40th anniversary celebration in Houston.

"This is very special," said Alexander. "This flag landed on the moon and I got one of them. This was on the first shuttle and I got it...the first man shuttle flight."

Alexander worked in several departments at NASA.

"That's the first landing crew - Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins - and I worked with those guys a great deal, especially Aldrin in developing the rendezvous," said Alexander, who was a trajectory rendezvous specialist.

He was 29 years old when Apollo 11 took off.

"I started to work for NASA in February of 1963 and I got right on the end of Mercury, which was the first project of putting man in space, but I really got in on the ground floor of Apollo when the actual missions were occuring," he said. "I was in the control center supporting the mission with the flight controllers. Those of us that were in the control center had about three seconds we could celebrate."

"We worked very hard and we didn't really think a lot about we're making history," he said. "We were just saying we're going to make this thing work. Now, we think about it. We say, 'Man, that was great to have been part of all that.'"

Apollo 11 wasn't the only mission he was apart of.

"This is Gene Kranz the guy on Apollo 13," he said. "Remember the flight director Gene? That's the real Gene Kranz. He was my boss at the time."

"Apollo 13, I was involved in helping make a correction burn on the way back to the earth from the moon. We all came together and figured our how to save those three guys - the three astronauts. That was probably one of our finest hours. We did all that in just a day. Nothing short of a miracle, as far as I'm concerned."

At 69, Alexander is retired but he'll never forget how NASA gave him an experience of a lifetime.

"I tell people I'm more of a space craft scientist, but I like the term rocket scientist so I go with that when people call me that," he laughed.

Alexander had so much more to tell us about his NASA experience. Fortunately, he put it all in his book called "The Moon and More." In the book, Alexander writes of his adventures working with NASA and about his family.

©2009 KLTV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.