Edgar Maurice Cortright (b. 1923, Pennsylvania) is a scientist and engineer, and former senior official at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the United States. His most prominent positions during his career were Director of NASA's Langley Research Center, and Chairman of the Apollo 13 Review Board which investigated the explosion that occurred during the Apollo 13 spaceflight in 1970.
Cortright was born in a coal mining district in western Pennsylvania, and his family moved to the Philadelphia area where he attended high school. He earned a B.S. followed by an M.S. in aeronautical engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1947 and 1949. He attended the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) Nuclear Engineering School in 1957, and later became a Doctor of Engineering at Rensselaer, in 1975.
Cortright enlisted in the United States Navy in September 1941 where he was a Lieutenant. He went on to work at the Lewis Flight Propulsion Laboratory (now the Glenn Research Center) at NACA, in Cleveland, Ohio. There, he held the positions of Aeronautical Research Scientist (1948); Head of Small Supersonic Tunnels Section (1949–1954); and Chief, Eight-by-Six-Foot Supersonic Wind Tunnel Branch (1954–1958).
He joined the newly formed NASA agency (successor to the NACA) as a founding member in 1958 and worked at NASA Headquarters in Washington D.C. where he was Chief of Advanced Technology (1958–1959); Assistant Director for Lunar and Planetary Programs, Office of Space Flight Programs, (1960–61); Deputy Director for Space Science and Applications (1961–1963); Deputy Associate Administrator for Space Science and Applications (1963–1968); and Deputy Associate Administrator, Office of Manned Space Flight, (1968).
He was Director of the Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia from 1968-1975. Following the spacecraft explosion during the Apollo 13 spaceflight in April 1970, Cortright was appointed chairman of the Apollo 13 Review Board which was established to investigate the cause of the accident. The Board reported its findings to NASA in June 1970.
Cortright left NASA to become Corporate Vice President and Technical Director at Owens Illinois Corporation from 1975-1979. He also held the positions of Senior Vice President for Science and Engineering (1978) and President (1979–1983) at Lockheed-California Company in Los Angeles, California. Cortright is now retired.
- NASA Biographical Data Sheet: Edgar Maurice Cortright
- Oral History Transcript: Edgar M. Cortright Lengthy interview of Cortright.
- Spaceflight Revolution: NASA Langley Research Center From Sputnik to Apollo See Chapter 12: The Cortright Synthesis.
- Exploring Space With A Camera. Compiled and Edited by Edgar M. Cortright, 1968.
- Apollo Expeditions to the Moon Edited by Edgar M. Cortright, 1975.