HELLO AMERICA!—It is quite exciting, I must admit, to meet someone of color who paved the way for so many extraordinary accomplishments. Shelby Jacobs is a mechanical engineer from the Apollo era. As Project Manager of the Apollo-Soyuz orbiter, Shelby designed instrumentation that would capture one of the most repeated images in space history: the separation between the first and second stages of the Apollo 6 spacecraft in 1968.
Shelby Jacobs’ contribution to space exploration is a truly remarkable feat. The Space Center is honored to display his life achievements revolving around his work and personal life as an African American aerospace engineer working in the 1960s. This extraordinary man was born in Texas and later, as a youngster, the family moved to Val Verde in California during the 40s. He attended college where he was recognized as a high-rated student, voted the class president of his class, the first of his race to be recognized in such a way, especially during that period of our country. He also excelled as an athlete during those college years.
Shelby emphasized that as a youngster living during a period when those of color had to understand the reality of winning, especially when the nation was so divided indicated that those of color should enter the back door or sit in a certain section of a restaurant or theater in many parts of our country. His observance of this kind of inhumanity simply reinforced his determination to reach the mountain top of freedom. His journey of emancipation involved that of the mind; he would not waste time with meaningless social activities which so many young people were programmed into.
After so many years involved in the space program, Shelby who, by the way, is extremely, happily married to his wife, Elizabeth, still has the urge in making it possible for young people and people of color and, of course, open opportunities for more women through the doors of opportunity in the space world project.
“After all, space exploration represents our tomorrow. There are some brilliant, extremely talented people, young and old who possibly can make a contribution in space exploration and travel; doors of opportunity should be open wide enough, so they will be able to enter without any kind of interference. This is why I still have a passion for the vision of the future; I only remember what we have already accomplished involving space exploration. Yes, it is a challenge, but filled with excitement, especially when one has the knowledge of how it might affect mankind on earth.”
Shelby Jacobs’ contribution to space exploration is a truly remarkable feat. The Space Center is honored to display his life achievements revolving around his work and personal life as an African-American aerospace engineer working in the 1960s.