Rocket scientist, inventor, classic car enthusiast, green thumb, and loving husband and father, Robert C Schindler of Rancho Murieta CA died on October 9 at his home, surrounded by family. He was born on April 5 1928 in Buffalo NY, one of identical twin brothers, to Carl Joseph and Marion Tangelder Schindler. He was 81.
Schindler was a major contributor to the design and development of liquid propellant rocket engines at Bell Aircraft in Niagara Falls NY and at Aerojet in Rancho Cordova CA. During his 50-year career, he was responsible for the design of monopropellant and bipropellant rocket engines and components in thrust classes from 5 to 1.5 million poinds using cryogenic, earth storable, space storable, gel and halogen propellants.
At Aerojet (1962-1993), he served as design engineer, engineering supervisor, program manager, and Chief Engineer for Engineering, Test, and Research. A key contributor to Aerojet missile defense systems efforts, in 1987 he was awarded the Aerojet RB Young Award for Technical Excellence and named, with colleagues, on two patents. These contributions were subsequently used on Aerojet products, one notably on the Space Shuttle Orbit Maneuvering Engine (still in use today).
Notable contributions at Bell (1950-1962) include his designs for Nike-AJAX, Rascal engine and the engine used in the B-58 powered pod. He also supported the design of the Bell 8096 engine - variations of which were used on Thor, Atlas, and Titan launch vehicles as well as on spy satellites and the two Mariner Mars probes.
After his retirement, he was asked to serve as technical advisor to the NASA Advisory Council Task Force's Proton Investigation Working Group focused on the findings of the Russian investigation of two Proton Launch failures. His contributions were recognized by USAF (ret) Lt. Gen. Thomas Stafford USAF (Task Force chair and former Gemini, Apollo and Apollo-Soyuz astronaut). The resultant remediation of engine design and service procedures resulted in the successful launch of the ISS (International Space Station) Service Module on the Russian Proton launch vehicle.
During the course of their 55-year marriage, he and his wife Rita traveled widely. His gardens, lovely and ever expanding, reflected his appreciation of European gardens visited during these travels. His home in Rancho Murieta, of his own design, reflected his appreciation of the style and features of French country homes that he visited with Rita. Throughout his life, he appreciated automobiles (especially of British design) and owned several, including an early Lagonda, a 1954 MG TF, two Jaguars, and two Alvis.
He kept a personal library with extensive selections (all of which he read) on military and political thought, American history, technology, automobiles, aircraft and space travel, as well as science fiction and fantasy, including some very early works.
He was active in the Roman Catholic Church, most recently serving in a number of volunteer capacities at St. Vincent De Paul Church in Rancho Murieta CA.
Mr Schindler is survived by his wive (of 55 years) Rita, his daughter Carla Bossard of Huntsville AL and her sons Dominic Igor, Carl Andrey and Everett Igor; his daughter Paula Schindler of Huntsville AL; his daughter Sara Schindler of Placentia CA and her daughters Ana Gabriela, Rita Isabela, and Sara Carolina; as well as by his beloved brothers and sisters.
He was appreciated as an unassuming, generous, and faithful friend. His death is mourned by family, friends, neighbors and colleagues.