STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Skilled to Work: Grandson follows in his grandfather's footsteps into the space industry

Frank Rieder, who passed away in 2006 at age 108, worked on the F-1 engine that helped power the Saturn V rocket.

Posted: Jul 11, 2019 3:26 PM
Updated: Jul 12, 2019 4:17 AM

Many people were inspired into the aerospace industry after watching one of the manned missions into space. For Frank Rieder, a Hungarian immigrant, it was something much simpler.

“The first thing he ever saw fly was a hot air balloon in Austria when he was a little kid,” said Bret Rieder, Frank’s grandson.

Frank Rieder (pictured at 22-years-old) traveled to California where he started working for Rocketdyne in 1958. Frank Rieder (pictured at 22-years-old) traveled to California where he started working for Rocketdyne in 1958.

F-1 rocket engines, each developing more than 1.5 million pounds of thrust, are installed in the first stage of the Saturn V vehicle. The first stage was developed and assembled by The Boeing Company at NASA’s Michoud operations in New Orleans.

“That’s what sparked his interest into flight. So he worked on airplanes and then eventually rockets.”

Bret said his grandfather left Mor, Hungary, without knowing any English and managed to pick up a fair amount before arriving at Ellis Island.

Eventually, he made his way out west to California and began working for Rocketdyne.

“See, the F1 was developed in the late 50s and that’s why they hired him because he was a well-known machinist. So 1958 he went there [and] worked on the F-1,” said Rieder.

Frank Rieder spent years working on the F-1. He left a lasting legacy on Rocketdyne that was so indelible, that when Bret arrived decades later, a Rocketdyne employee started gushing over Frank.

“And he [a Rocketdyne employee] went on to tell me great stories about what a great machinist he was and how respected he was,” said Rieder.

“Just to walk in and hear that about him made me very proud.”

For his contribution to the Apollo program, Frank received a metal plaque of appreciation bearing the signatures of the men who first stepped on the Moon.

“At the time, in the late 50s and early 60s, I think his profession, a machinist, it was viewed upon a lot differently than it is today. It was absolutely the top skill,” said Rieder.

Inspired by his grandfather, Bret joined Rocketdyne in the 1980s as a tool maker. He moved up in the ranks to tool manager before moving to United Launch Alliance (ULA) in the mid-1990s where he currently works as the tool engineering lead.

“When I joined, it was space shuttle days, so we had manned spaceflight and I enjoyed that. It's so fulfilling to send people to space. You're proud of every launch and you feel every tragedy,” said Rieder.

He recalls one of the saddest moments of his career was watching the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986. He was part of the fault analysis team tasked with determining what went wrong.

“We stopped manned space flight for a while. And it recovered. So it was nice that I was part of that, although every day was sad,” said Rieder.

Today, Rieder works with and helps to teach the younger generation of workers at ULA as he prepares to retire in 2020, which will mark year 40 for him in the industry.

He said through all of that time, he continued to be inspired by his grandfather who passed away in 2006 at 108-years-old.

“He was able to communicate with anyone and was very instrumental in the development of the F-1 rocket that went on the Saturn that ultimately put Apollo on the Moon,” said Rieder.

“I'm very proud of the man he was and the work he did. And I'll never forget him.”

Huntsville/Redstone
Partly Cloudy
67° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 67°
Muscle Shoals
Partly Cloudy
71° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 71°
Huntsville/Madison
Partly Cloudy
69° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 69°
Decatur
Partly Cloudy
67° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 67°
Fort Payne
Partly Cloudy
67° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 67°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 522512

Reported Deaths: 10790
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson755371494
Mobile39129799
Madison34124500
Tuscaloosa25408444
Montgomery24059573
Shelby23225242
Baldwin20730302
Lee15638166
Calhoun14358311
Morgan14171273
Etowah13705348
Marshall12012220
Houston10416279
Elmore10024203
Limestone9862148
Cullman9509191
St. Clair9486236
Lauderdale9280233
DeKalb8762183
Talladega8127173
Walker7151276
Autauga6763106
Jackson6762110
Blount6532133
Colbert6236132
Coffee5436113
Dale4781111
Russell431239
Franklin421382
Chilton4130110
Covington4069115
Tallapoosa3922148
Escambia390374
Dallas3528150
Chambers3519122
Clarke347360
Marion3076100
Pike306676
Lawrence296395
Winston273272
Bibb256761
Marengo248561
Geneva246475
Pickens233259
Barbour227155
Hale218675
Butler213268
Fayette209660
Henry188444
Cherokee182744
Randolph177841
Monroe173140
Washington165538
Macon156548
Clay150255
Crenshaw149557
Cleburne147041
Lamar140034
Lowndes137353
Wilcox124727
Bullock122040
Conecuh109728
Perry107726
Sumter103332
Coosa99428
Greene91434
Choctaw58824
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 835842

Reported Deaths: 12081
CountyCasesDeaths
Shelby930851587
Davidson88030924
Knox49813624
Hamilton43402485
Rutherford42319420
Williamson27545216
Sumner23492341
Montgomery19623224
Wilson18472229
Out of TN1803295
Unassigned16760132
Sullivan16184287
Blount15180194
Bradley14599147
Washington14177242
Maury13211169
Sevier13166175
Putnam11168173
Madison10789241
Robertson9607130
Anderson8627171
Hamblen8498171
Greene7739152
Tipton7226104
Coffee6831121
Dickson6734109
Cumberland6568127
Carter6468156
Bedford6426129
Gibson6402144
McMinn636597
Roane6191102
Jefferson6073121
Loudon601669
Lawrence580686
Hawkins5781106
Monroe570995
Warren551381
Dyer5361104
Franklin508688
Fayette492178
Obion450296
Cheatham444454
Cocke443798
Rhea431275
Lincoln430663
Marshall411158
Campbell409662
Weakley402862
Giles395399
Henderson372975
Macon358077
Carroll357582
White354868
Hardin349766
Hardeman346464
Lauderdale314444
Henry312475
Marion309946
Claiborne306273
Scott305545
Overton296961
Wayne294334
Hickman280546
McNairy276854
DeKalb275653
Smith274838
Haywood268361
Grainger259149
Trousdale249022
Morgan246039
Fentress238546
Johnson231638
Bledsoe209711
Chester209451
Crockett201048
Polk200024
Unicoi194549
Cannon188931
Union186034
Grundy177933
Humphreys174221
Lake169526
Sequatchie166728
Benton163240
Decatur157338
Lewis155826
Meigs134823
Stewart130828
Jackson129935
Clay109031
Houston108533
Perry105728
Moore100017
Van Buren83421
Pickett75624
Hancock54912

Community Events