Edward McClung “Mack” Henderson

Edward (Mack) McClung Henderson, 84, a longtime resident of Dickinson, Texas, passed from this life on March 18th, 2023. Mack was born to parents, Hunter Harvey Henderson and Marion Dillard Henderson on August 21, 1938 in Salem, Virginia.

Mack graduated from Virginia Polytechnical Institute (VPI) aka Virginia Tech with a BS in Aerospace Engineering.  Mack was a co-op at the US Army Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville Alabama before starting a 50-year career at the NASA Johnson Space Center.  Mack worked in Mission Planning and Analysis for the Gemini, Apollo and Space Shuttle Programs.

During his time in the Space Shuttle Program Mack served as the abort subsystem design manager and as a Flight Design Manager, he led the integration of shuttle design for the first Spacelab mission. Mack later headed the ascent and entry flight design group for the Shuttle Program.

Mack worked in the Flight Directors Office, where he was responsible for Space Shuttle and International Space Station Program mission operation integration.  He managed the SPAN (mission control’s spacecraft analysis room) for more than 50 shuttle flights. Mack moved to the Shuttle Program office in 1990. While in the program office, he helped set up the Space Shuttle Development Office that over saw major shuttle upgrade projects, critical in keeping the Shuttle operational.  Mack led a technical team on improvements for shuttle derived launch vehicles, significantly increasing performance at a reduced cost. Once NASA announced its new vision for space exploration and the retirement of the Space Shuttle, Mack helped set up the transition team responsible for safely ending the program. Mack’s final assignment was to apply Shuttle applications to reduce risks and operational cost of future NASA programs.

Thru the years, Mack received several prestigious awards including: two NASA Exceptional Service Medal (1983, 2007), AIAA Aerospace Maintenance Award (2001), AIAA Associate Fellow (2010) and the Rotary National Award for Space Achievement (2011).

He was a faithful Christian.  He was an active member of First United Methodist Church in Dickinson, where he served in several lay ministries including Stephen Ministry, Agape Sunday School for 20+ years and served several church leadership roles.


As a resident of Dickinson for 58 years, Mack was involved in numerous community events/activities such as a coach and board member for Dickinson Little League baseball. Mack helped start the first Little League Football Team in Dickinson (Vikings) where he served in several board positions. Mack was also a member of the Lions Club where he served a term as President.

Mack is preceded in death by his parents and his brother, Rick Woodson.

He leaves behind to cherish his memory, his devoted wife, Dianne Henderson; son, David Henderson and wife, Lucy; two grandsons, Hunter Henderson and Nathaniel Henderson; nieces Pam McKenzie, Jan McKenzie, Sally Woodson, Suzie Williams and nephew Steve McKenzie in addition to many friends.

A service will be held on Tuesday, March 28th at 11:00am at Dickinson First United Methodist Church, 200 FM 517 Rd. W. in Dickinson, Texas.


  1. So sorry to learn and miss. I won’t be back until next day. Very nice guy!

    Pat Daniel
  2. I worked with Mack in Mission Planning & Analysis on the Apollo, Skylab and Space Shuttle projects, starting in about 1965. Mack was an excellent engineer and even finer person! He certainly was a key factor on the Operations side of all those US crewed programs and was a leader to many younger personnel! Even after Mack retired from NASA he continued to push for key technological capabilities, such as on-orbit propellant storage and spacecraft re-fueling techniques! Mack was truly one of the finest that NASA has produced!

    Ken Young
  3. RIP old friend. Our friendship began during Apollo, creating a relationship that will continue in my memory forever. Glad we talked recently. I will miss our baseball discussions.

    Bill Boone
  4. We will miss you Mack but we will see you again in the house of the Lord.
    It was wonderful to know you.

    Anna and Hugh Ronalds

    Anna and Hugh Ronalds
  5. Farewell, Mack – it was a privilege and pleasure to work alongside you on Shuttle aborts, and learn so much in the process. Your kind nature, stability, integrity, and patient guidance truly set an inspirational, awe-inspiring standard for us starry-eyed newcomers. Until we meet again…

    Brian Perry
  6. Mack was my Great Freind and Mentor for many years. I will miss him very much. He was always eager to help everyone and share his knowledge and expertise. He helped me immensely as a Guidance Officer in Flight Control for developing the displays and procedures for the crew to monitor ascent and entry for Shuttle missions. Later when I came back from Space Station assignments to Mission Operations, I served with him in the Program Integration Office in the Flight Directors Office. He was always wanting to do things better. He loved his family, his wife Diane and son David, as we all should love ours. A great loss for us all. May God Bless you Mack.

    J. T. Chapman III
  7. Godspeed Uncle Mack. I will cherish the fond memories we had. You will be dearly missed and I know you and granddaddy are catching up on lost time. I time we meet again.


  8. Diane, I was so very sorry to hear about Mack’s passing. He was a wonderful man. I miss you and Mack. Will pray for you and your family. Love you. Ann Towry.

    Ann Towry
  9. Diane, I am so sorry to hear that you have lost Mack. Both of you made such an impression on me- you gave of yourselves every time we had Education Alley to explain to kids why space travel was so important. I also remember your love of the VA Tech Hokies- a passion that we share. Heaven received a wonderful angel. Lisa

    Lisa Bacon
  10. We are so sad to learn of Mack’s passing. Our Condolences go to you Diane and all your family.
    We have been good friends ever since we first met in 1968 when we moved in to Carriage Square Apartments in Dickinson after our move from the UK. We will never forget the welcome and kindness Mack and Diane extended to us We stayed as good friends and neighbors when we both built homes across from each other on Frostwood Circle. Although we moved from Texas we remained close friends and. enjoyed our visits back to stay with Mack and Diane. Mack was a great barbecuer and made great brisket. On one visit he stayed up all night to keep his smoker going.That’s the type of guy he was. He gave us and our family many a tour of NASA who he was proud to work for.
    We will miss him.
    Austin, Helen, Sarah, Mark Andrew Rachel, Robert Olivia

    Austin & Helen Peppin
  11. I’m very sorry to hear this news. My sincere condolences to the family and friends. Mack was a good friend and co-worker at NASA for many years. RIP Mack.
    Gene Ricks

    Gene Ricks
  12. What a wonderful person and friend Mack was. He was intelligent, yet selfless and humble. He was a wonderful role model in how to live one’s life as a Christian. We will miss you, Mack, but know you are rejoicing in heaven.

    Sue and Rodney Beem

    Sue Beem
  13. Mack was my great friend and co-worker when we worked together in many projects in support of the Space Shuttle Program and Human Exploration Initiative. He was the great engineer to explore options to make the safe human exploration. He was an excellent leader when he led the Adhoc team to develop the Shuttle derived launch vehicle for Human exploration. One of his great achievements was to convince NASA leadership team at HQ and technical teams at MSFC to utilize the existing and reliable Space Shuttle Main Engine (SSME) for Ares-V launch vehicle (i.e., Space Launch System).

    I and Thu will miss you, Mack.
    Tri and Thu Nguyen

    Tri Xuan Nguyen
  14. Mack was a wonderful neighbor and person when we lived on Frostwood Circle. He was always interested in what our son was doing in Boys Scouts. I always enjoyed my conversations with him when he was walking around the circle. An humble, kind, and very intelligent man. A great man in many ways, a good man in all ways.

    Marc Bickham

    Marc Bickham

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