NASA at first dismissed LOR as a riskier option, given that a space rendezvous had yet to be performed in Earth orbit, much less in lunar orbit. Several NASA officials, including Langley Research Center engineer John Houbolt and NASA Administrator George Low, argued that a lunar orbit rendezvous provided the simplest landing on the Moon with the most cost–efficient launch vehicle, and the best chance to accomplish the lunar landing within the decade. Other NASA officials were convinced, and LOR was officially selected as the mission configuration for the Apollo program on November 7, 1962. Arthur Rudolph became the project director of the Saturn V rocket program in August 1963. He developed the requirements for the rocket system and the mission plan for the Apollo program. The first Saturn V launch lifted off from Kennedy Space Center and performed flawlessly on November 9, 1967, Rudolph’s birthday. He was then assigned as the special assistant to the director of MSFC in May 1968 and subsequently retired from NASA on January 1, 1969. During his tenure he was awarded the NASA Exceptional Service Medal and the NASA Distinguished Service Medal. On July 16, 1969, the Saturn V launched Apollo 11, putting man on the Moon.