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William Robert Graham

William Graham (born June 15, 1937) was a Deputy Administrator and Acting Administrator of NASA during 1985 and 1986.

Born in San Antonio, Texas, Graham received his B.S. degree in physics from the California Institute of Technology in 1959. In addition, he earned an M.S. degree in engineering science in 1961, and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering in 1963, both from Stanford University.

Graham served three years active duty as a project officer with the Air Force Weapons Laboratory at Kirtland Air Force Base, Albuquerque, New Mexico, directing a group conducting experimental and theoretical research on strategic system survivability. Graham later spent six years with the Rand Corporation in Santa Monica, California, and founded R&D Associates in 1971.

In 1980, Graham served as an advisor to presidential candidate Ronald Reagan and was a member of the President-elect's transition team. From 1982 to 1985, he served as chair of the General Advisory Committee on Arms Control and Disarmament, having been nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate in 1982.

On September 12, 1985, Graham was nominated by President Reagan for the position of Deputy Administrator of NASA. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on November 18, and sworn in on November 25, 1985. For a period from December 4, 1985 to May 11, 1986, Graham served as Acting Administrator of NASA following the resignation of James M. Beggs. It was on his watch as Acting Administrator that the Space Shuttle Challenger was launched in frigid weather, causing the O-Rings to fail and destroy the ship. Graham left NASA on October 1, 1986 to become Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. On October 16, 1986, he was sworn in as Science Advisor to President Reagan, a position he held until June 1989 when he left government service to join Jaycor, a high-technology company headquartered in San Diego, California.

Graham has also been a consultant to the Office of the Secretary of Defense and served on many international and national boards and advisory groups, including the National Academy of Science/National Research Council Committee on Undersea Warfare, the Air Force Science Advisory Board Task Force on Manned Strategic System Vulnerability, the U.S.-U.K. Joint Working Group on Atomic Weapons, the Defense Nuclear Agency Scientific Advisory Group on Effects, and the Defense Science Board System Vulnerability Task Force and Associated Task Forces.

In 1998 Graham served on the Rumsfeld Commission, which investigated the ballistic missile threat to the United States for the Congress.


Government offices
Preceded by
Hans Mark
Deputy Administrator of NASA
November 25, 1985 - October 1, 1986
Succeeded by
Dale D. Myers
Preceded by
James M. Beggs
Administrator of NASA

December 4, 1985 - May 11, 1986
Succeeded by
James C. Fletcher


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