Space Shuttle Discovery’s Final Flight: Washington City’s Bill Newhouse Remembered

HDR Rendering
Astronauts check thrusters on return of Shuttle Mission | Photo Courtesy of Larry Barnett

Bill Newhouse
Bill Newhouse with The Blue Streak | Photo Courtesy of Larry Barnett

WASHINGTON CITY – As Space Shuttle Discovery makes its final flight home to earth, leaving the Space Station this morning, at least one aspect of history’s space exploration era nears its end.  St. George News receives a snapshot of one man from our community who made significant contribution to that industry.

C. W. Newhouse, known to many as “Bill,” is to be remembered with admiration as the program manager of the team that designed, developed and produced the RF2 Thruster Rockets for the Reaction Control System of the Space Shuttles, Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavor.

Newhouse, born in 1924, served in the United States Navy during World War II, engaged as a gunner / radio operator participating in the Philippines Liberation Campaign, the battle of Leyte Gulf and the now epic Last Campaign at Iwo Jima, among other things.

After receiving his degree in Mechanical Engineering with the help of the G.I. Bill, Newhouse eventually accepted a position with the Marquardt Company in Van Nuys, California, where he was employed for over 37 years.

His son Larry Barnett said that “It was during Bill’s tenure at Marquardt which, in team with Rockwell International, earned contracts with NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), that he oversaw the development of the thruster rockets.”

“He was the go-to guy for NASA, he had a reputation for getting things done and thriving under pressure,” Barnett said. “He was the liaison and involved from the beginning of these rocket developments, including a variant of the Space Shuttle thrusters which was used on the earlier Apollo missions, not the least of which was that of the first manned moon landing.”

Newhouse enjoyed his last years of residence on earth here in Washington County at Stirling Court, where he was often seen manning his own “shuttle” – a walker – , which came to be fondly known as “The Blue Streak.”

To the loss of many, Newhouse made his own “final flight” in 2010, leaving two sons and a daughter, five grand children, six great grand children, and many others whose joy for the impression he thrust upon their lives does seem to exceed their sorrow.

Asked what his father felt about the impending sunset of the Space Shuttle program, Barnett said he thinks his dad would have viewed it with mixed emotions of pride and sadness.

”He was a humble and self-effacing man,” Barnett said.

Bearing this out, are letters of commendation to his dad from NASA and Rockwell, which Barnett discovered in going through his dad’s belongings after he was gone.

This writer, in collaboration with Barnett, produced and published a book January 29, 2011, C. W. Newhouse, A Life Well Lived, available online at

Editor’s Note:  The book is a memoriam and no proceeds or profits on Blurb Bookstore’s sales go to St. George News, its writer, Joyce Kuzmanic, or Larry Barnett interviewed in this article.

shuttle thruster
Thruster in Action (flame at rear) | Photo Courtesy of Larry Barnett

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.