Bill Escher, AIAA Associate Fellow, and AIAA Member Emeritus, passed away at his Huntsville, Alabama, home on the morning of May 12. Escher was 82. Escher received the 1988 AIAA George M. Low Space Transportation Award for his work on space transportation programs including Vanguard and the Spaceliner programs, and for his work promoting the Synerjet combined-cycle engine concept for low-cost, reliable access to space.
Escher began his aerospace career in the U.S. Army as a countdown officer for the Vanguard rocket program. He went on to be employed by NASA, serving at the Lewis Research Center (now NASA Glenn Research Center), the Marshall Space Flight Center, and NASA Headquarters. After his NASA career, Escher worked for various aerospace firms including North American Rockwell and Rocketdyne, Astronautics Corporation of America, and SAIC.
Escher championed both combined cycle propulsion as a way to achieve low-cost reusable space access, writing over hundred papers on the topic. Eschar also championed the cause of hydrogen as an energy source, forming Escher Technology Associates, later known as Escher-Foster Technology - in 1972 to provide technical leadership and expertise to help develop an energy economy based on hydrogen. Escher was also a founding member of the International Hydrogen Energy Association.