Julian Allen is best known for his “Blunt Body Theory” of aerodynamics,
a design technique for alleviating the severe re-entry heating problem
which was then delaying the development of ballistic missiles. His
findings revolutionized the fundamental design of ballistic missle
re-entry shapes. Subsequently, applied research led to applications of
the “blunt” shape to ballistic missles and spacecraft which were
intended to re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere. This application led to the
design of ablative heat shields that protected the Mercury, Gemini and
Apollo astronauts as their space capsules re- entered the Earth’s
atmosphere. “Harvey” Allen as he was called by most, was not only a
brilliant scientist and aeronautical engineer but was also admired for
his kindness, thoughtfulness and sense of humor. Among his many other
accomplishments, Harvey Allen served as Center Director of the NASA Ames
Research Center from 1965 to 1969. He died of a heart attack on January
29, 1977 at the age of 66.