Huntington Beach resident J. Crane Simmons was summoned to Washington this month to receive the Public Service Medal from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
Simmons, 63, retired this year from McDonnell Douglas Aerospace after a 40-year career as an electrical engineer.
He was nominated for the award, which honors those in private industry who make exceptional contributions to NASA space missions, by Joseph H. Rothenberg, director of the Goddard Space Flight Center.
A native of St. George, Utah, Simmons' career paralleled the growth of the space industry in the United States. He began his career with the Douglas Aircraft Co.'s missile and space division soon after the Soviet Union launched Sputnik in 1957.
In his retirement, Simmons continues to consult for NASA. He volunteers with the Boy Scouts and serves as a bishop with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
He and his wife, Shanna, have five children and expect their 17th grandchild soon.