On June 15, 1965, U-M graduates and NASA Astronauts James Alton McDivitt and Edward Higgins White II, open the new NASA Space Research Building on North Campus.
James Alton McDivitt (Brig Gen, USAF Ret.) (born June 10, 1929) is a former NASA astronaut who flew in the Gemini and Apollo programs. He commanded the Gemini 4 flight during which Edward H. White performed the first US space walk, and later the Apollo 9 flight which was the first manned flight test of the Lunar Module and the complete set of Apollo flight hardware. He later became Manager of Lunar Landing Operations and was the Apollo Spacecraft Program Manager from 1969 to 1972.
McDivitt graduated from Kalamazoo Central High School, and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the University of Michigan (graduated first in class) in 1959 and an honorary doctorate in Astronautical Science from the University of Michigan in 1965.
Edward Higgins White, II (Lt Col, USAF) (November 14, 1930 – January 27, 1967) was an engineer, U.S. Air Force officer, and NASA astronaut. On June 3, 1965, he became the first American to "walk" in space. White died along with his fellow astronauts Virgil "Gus" Grissom and Roger B. Chaffee during prelaunch testing for the first manned Apollo mission at Cape Canaveral. He was awarded the NASA Distinguished Service Medal for his flight in Gemini 4 and then awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor posthumously.
White was born in San Antonio, Texas. White's father, Edward H. White, Sr. was a major general in the Air Force. After graduation from high school, he was accepted to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where in 1952 he earned his Bachelor of Science degree and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Air Force.
In 1958, White enrolled in the University of Michigan under Air Force sponsorship to study aeronautical engineering, where he earned his Master of Science degree in 1959. Following graduation, White was selected to attend the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base and was then assigned as a test pilot. White was one of nine men chosen as part of the second group of astronauts in 1962. Within an already elite group, White was considered to be a high-flier by the management of NASA. He was chosen as Pilot of Gemini 4, with Command Pilot James McDivitt. White became the first American to make a walk in space, on June 3, 1965.