reader note: "Dr. Robert E. Shurney recently passed away in Huntsville, Alabama. Dr. Shurney, a retired Marshall Space Flight Center engineer, accomplished several major and significant tasks for NASA."
Dr. Shurney was the lead engineer for the tires used on the Lunar Rover Vehicle. When ordered to make them as light as possible, his innovative approach was to create an aluminum tire that had metal plates on the inside and a wire mesh on the outside. The design proved to be a complete success. Dr. Shurney also designed the Skylab waste control system which was the first successful equipment to make "going to the bathroom" somewhat normal in space.
He not only designed this space commode, he also tested it aboard the zero-G KC-135 to ensure it would work. His design was ultimately the basis for the WCS used aboard the Space Shuttle. Dr. Shurney was recently honored by an exhibit at the Smithsonian Institute as one of the USA's foremost African-American space scientists. More information: http://stefscrib.blogspot.com/