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Lawrence J. Thomson Collection

Identifier: MC-17
The Lawrence J. Thomson collection is primarily focused on the years during which time Thomson was the Chief engineer on the Space Shuttle Main Engines. In addition, this collection includes historical data relating to launch platforms and propulsion systems development.


  • 1962 - 1993


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research in the Archives & Special Collections reading room. Handling guidelines and use restrictions will be communicated and enforced by archives staff members.

Conditions Governing Use

This material may be protected under U. S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S. Code) which governs the making of photocopies or reproductions of copyrighted materials. You may use the digitized material for private study, scholarship, or research. Though the University of Alabama in Huntsville Archives and Special Collections has physical ownership of the material in its collections, in some cases we may not own the copyright to the material. It is the patron's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in our collections.


33 Linear Feet (33 boxes.)

Biographical / Historical

Lawrence J. Thomson was born on August 18, 1925 and died February 1, 2004. In 1941, Thomson enlisted in the Merchant Marines; in 1944 he enlisted with the U.S. Marine Corps. Following World War II, Thomson graduated with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Auburn University. From 1953 to 1956, he worked in the development of the Liquid Oxygen/RPI rocket motor technologies while working for North American Aviation in Canoga Park, CA.

Thomson worked for Rust Engineering in Birmingham from 1957 to 1960, then came to work for the Army Ballistic Missile Agency in Huntsville, before his transfer to the Marshall Center when it was opened on July 1, 1960. Thomson served as a test engineer during the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs during the development of the H-1, J-2, and F-1 engines for NASA.

In 1968, NASA selected Thomson to begin preliminary design studies in development of the Space Shuttle main engine. From 1971 to 1986, Thomson served as chief engineer for the Space Shuttle main engine, and in that position, he organized the engineering efforts at Marshall, supporting 23 Shuttle flights. In 1981, Thomson was awarded the NASA Exceptional Service Medal for his contribution to the success of Space Shuttle propulsion.

Thomson retired from his position at the Marshall Center in 1989, and he went to work with Aerojet in Sacramento, CA., until 1995 as chief scientist for advanced propulsion. Following his work at Aerojet, Thomson returned to Huntsville.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Lawrence J. Thomson, 2004.

Processing Information

Collections are processed to a variety of levels, depending on the work necessary to make them usable, their perceived research value, the availability of staff, and competing priorities. The library attempts to provide a basic level of preservation and access for all collections as they are acquired and does more extensive processing of higher priority collections as time and resources permit.
Anne Coleman, David Hanning
Description rules

Repository Details

Part of the The University of Alabama in Huntsville Archives & Special Collections Repository

M. Louis Salmon Library
301 Sparkman Drive
Huntsville, AL 35899 Alabama 35899 United States of America