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Author photo. On Oct. 9, 1986, at Kennedy Space Center, Gene Thomas, director of launch and landing operations, stands in front of shuttle Atlantis on launch pad 39B. To Thomas' right are Bill Warren, pad site manager; Bob Sieck, director of shuttle management and operations; and Lt. Gen. Forrest McCartney, KSC director.

On Oct. 9, 1986, at Kennedy Space Center, Gene Thomas, director of launch and landing operations, stands in front of shuttle Atlantis on launch pad 39B. To Thomas' right are Bill Warren, pad site manager; Bob Sieck, director of shuttle management and operations; and Lt. Gen. Forrest McCartney, KSC director.

James A. Thomas (4) : James A. (Gene) Thomas [1934–2016]

This page covers the author of Some Trust in Chariots.

For other authors named James A. Thomas, see the disambiguation page.

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Gene Thomas joined NASA in 1962 during the Mercury program, and later served as launch director for five shuttle missions, from October 1985 through Challenger's 51-L mission launched on Jan. 28, 1986.  The experience was devastating to Thomas, like other members of the KSC team who prepared the shuttle for launch. But friends said he persevered to help sort out the accident’s cause and implement safety improvements.

After Challenger, Thomas served as director of safety, reliability and quality assurance at KSC for several years until his appointment as the center's deputy director in 1990.

In 2006, Thomas published a memoir, "Some Trust in Chariots," about his Challenger experience and how it tested his Christian faith.

In 1997, Thomas retired, and in his years at NASA, received numerous NASA awards including the Exceptional Service Medal and Outstanding Leadership Medal.

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