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Tigers: Tracking a Legend
Robert F. Freitag
Robert Frederick Freitag was born in Jackson, Michigan on January 20, 1920. After graduating from the University of Michigan in 1941 with a degree in aeronautical engineering, Freitag went on to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for graduate work in aeronautical engineering in 1941-42. He was also commissioned an ensign in the Naval Reserve in 1941.
Freitag has been involved in the guided missile and rocket field since 1945, with assignments that included aerodynamic development of Navy guided missiles, establishment of supersonic wind tunnels, and guided missile intelligence assignments.
In 1951, he received a special commendation from the Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet for planning and operations associated with the first Navy guided missiles employed during the Korean War. From 1953 until 1955, Freitag was assigned to the Navy Bureau of Aeronautics where he was in charge of the REGULUS missile program. In 1955, he became Project Officer in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations on the Jupiter and Polaris intermediate range ballistic missiles and the Vanguard earth satellite. That assignment was followed by a tour of duty as range planning officer, leading up to his appointment as Special Assignment to the Commander, Pacific Missile Range.
In 1959, Freitag became the director of space and astronautics systems development, supporting research, operational planning, and program management at the Bureau of Naval Weapons. From 1963 to 1986 he worked for NASA negotiating international agreements for space programs, and has also worked on Mercury, Gemini, Apollo-Soyuz and Spacelab programs. He passed away on April 21, 1998. He was enshrined into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on November 7, 1992 for his efforts in the advancement of aviation through his work with both the Navy and NASA on missile technology.