Early Life and Education
April 12, 1945 was an historic day. Franklin D. Roosevelt died in Warm Springs, Georgia, and Larry Bloom was born in Long Beach, California.
Larry enjoyed an active childhood in Long Beach where he was heavily involved in both school activities and Boy Scouting. Childhood highlights included earning the Eagle Scout award and meeting his high school sweetheart, and future wife, Marilyn.
In 1963, Larry went off to the University of California in Berkeley, where he earned a B.S. degree in chemical engineering. After his junior year of undergraduate work, Larry and Marilyn were married.
Following graduation, Larry joined Shell Oil Company as a Process Engineer, helping to activate a newly constructed refinery in Martinez, California. After just a few months with Shell Oil, the exigencies of the Vietnam War and the needs of the Draft Board persuaded Larry it was time to join the Air Force. He underwent basic training and officer training school, at Lackland AFB, TX and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant.
Since retiring, Larry spends his time traveling and cruising with Marilyn and doing volunteer work from his home in Longmont, Colorado where he is a driver and board member for Longmont Meals on Wheels. He also shares his enthusiasm for amateur astronomy by co-hosting ranger-led star gazing programs as a volunteer at Rocky Mountain National Park. Larry is also a prostate cancer survivor.
Larry began his space-related career in 1968 when he was assigned to the Medium Launch Vehicle Program Office at the Space and Missile Systems Organization (SAMSO) in El Segundo, California. There, he worked as a propulsion engineer for the Scout and Thor space boosters and as a development engineer for the Burner II/IIA upper stages. He was later transferred to SAMSO’s Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) where he was the project engineer for development of the Block 5D generation of weather satellites. Larry’s two sons were born during his SAMSO tour of duty.
In 1972, Larry was sent to the Air Force Institute of Technology, where he earned an M.S. degree in astronautical engineering (specializing in trajectory optimization) and was elected to the Tau Beta Pi engineering honor society.
The next assignment was to 2nd Communications Squadron at Buckley ANGB, in Aurora, Colorado where he was a shift-working satellite systems engineer operating a constellation of Defense Support Program (DSP) missile early warning satellites.
1978 saw Larry moving to HQ Air Force Systems Command, at Andrews AFB, Maryland, where he spent three years as a strategic defense mission area analyst in the plans division.
It was back to school in 1981, when he attended the Air Command and Staff College at Maxwell AFB, Alabama. Simultaneously, he obtained an MBA degree from Auburn University.
Reassigned in 1982 to HQ USAF, at the Pentagon, his primary job was Program Element Monitor for the Consolidated Space Operations Center. He led the Congressional funding, land acquisition, design, and construction phases for what became Shriever AFB, near Colorado Springs, CO.
His final military assignment was back to the DSP ground station at Buckley, which by 1985 was part of the newly established AF Space Command. During this second tour at Buckley, Larry was, first, the Chief of satellite system engineering, and later the unit Vice Commander.
After more than 21 years in the military, Larry retired from the Air Force in 1989, as a Lieutenant Colonel. His decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters.
He immediately joined IBM’s DSP ground systems program, in Boulder, Colorado. Over the next 16 years, IBM sold the DSP business to Loral Space Systems Co, which later merged with Lockheed-Martin. Throughout the various business realignments, the DSP contractor ground team remained in Boulder as an intact group.
During this period, Larry worked, first, as the chief engineer for the upgrade of six mobile ground terminals–to maintain their compatibility with a new generation of DSP satellites. He next served as the program manager for the upgrade of fixed-site radio frequency read-out stations at Buckley and at Woomera, Australia. Upon award of the contract for the ground segment of the Space-Based Infra-Red System (SBIRS), Larry was appointed as manager of the systems engineering department. As the ground segment design matured, Larry was reassigned as the site installation and activation manager for the SBIRS Mission Control Station (MCS), located at Buckley AFB, CO. Upon Air Force operational acceptance of the MCS, Larry received a Lockheed-Martin NOVA award (the highest corporate award) for his activation efforts. Finally, he was the lead systems architect for development of the ground systems for operating the new SBIRS highly elliptical missile surveillance satellites.
Larry retired from Lockheed-Martin, at age 60, in 2005.
After retiring from full-time employment, he was recalled for a six-month stint of part-time advisory work with Lockheed-Martin. The next year he was recruited to train undergraduate students to operate several NASA satellites at the University of Colorado’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics.
IMPACT ON SPACE COMMAND
Lt Col Larry Bloom continued early day work on the Air Force’s rocketry capability. His work on Gen Bernard Schriever’s Thor rocket focused on improvements to the upper stages which led to the Air Force ability to launch the nation’s first weather satellites into Medium Earth Orbit? Though the Thor has since been retired, these weather satellite, originally known as Program 35 and then Data Acquisition and Processing Program, is now owned by the Air Force Space Command and operated by NOAA.