Robert Daniel Arritt, 48, an engineering manager for the space science division of the Naval Research Laboratory here, died of congestive heart failure Thursday at the Marina City Club in Marina Del Ray, Calif., while on a business trip.

Mr Arritt joined the laboratory in the early 1960s. As engineering manager of scientific rocket and satellite systems, he was responsible for converting the second stage of the land-based Minute-man 2 missile into a new high-altitude, heavy payload scientific sounding rocket, the Aries.

He received an Air Force special commendation award for this work, which demonstrated the feasibility of air-launched ballistic missiles.

He was born in Covington, Va., and earned a bachelor's degree in engineering from Northwestern University in 1952.

Mr. Arritttrom Northwestern University in 1952.

Mr. Arritt had lived in McLean since 1976 and was a member of the River Bend Golf and Country Club in Great Falls. He also was a Mason.

Survivors include his wife, Laurie, of the home; a son, Craig, of Reston; a daughter, Lisa, of Clearwater Beach, Fla.; his father, E. Haven Arritt, of Covington; and two brothers, Nolan P., of McLean, and Clarence, of Spottsylvania Va.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the Heart Fund.