Photo of Hugh L. Dryden

Hugh L. Dryden

  • National Medal of Science
  • Engineering

For contributions as an engineer, administrator, and civil servant for one-half century to aeronautics and astronautics which have immesurably supported the Nation’s preeminence in space.

A licensed minister for the Calvary Methodist Church, Hugh L. Dryden’s religious roots taught him to loathe self-promotion. He let his accomplishments – the foundational research that made the moon landing possible – speak for themselves.

In 1946, Dryden became Director of Aeronautical Research for the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, an agency later absorbed into NASA.

There, he supervised development of the rocket-propelled X-15 plane and solved problems faced by manned spacecraft re-entering Earth’s atmosphere.

An agent of peace, Dryden also helped negotiate historic agreements with the Soviet Union during the contentious race to space. Dedicated to his research, the determined engineer found it difficult to stop working – even after he was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

“One major mark of rank in the organic world is the capacity to suffer,” he once said in a sermon. “To willingly accept toil, trouble and suffering, these are the goals for scientists as well as for other men.”