Personnel News: October 2015 Archives

Charles Elachi to retire as JPL Director, NASA

"Charles Elachi, the director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory since 2001, announced today he is retiring at the end of June 2016. He will become professor emeritus at the California Institute of Technology, where he currently serves as a vice president and professor of Electrical Engineering and Planetary Science. Elachi began his career at JPL in 1970."

Bob Farquhar (Update)

In Memory of Robert Farquhar, the Original Space Hacker, Motherboard

"Bob was laid to rest the other day after 83 orbits around the sun. Bob liked to tinker with things - especially spacecraft and their orbits. Let me change that. Bob was a hacker. Since he actually was the smartest guy in the room, he always had the numbers on his side. And he was persistent - sometimes waiting months, years, or even decades to get something to happen the way he envisioned it."

Stan Schmidt

Stanley Schmidt Former Ames Aerospace Engineer Dies

"In 1959, even before President Kennedy had announced that we choose to go to the Moon, Stanley F. Schmidt was developing a midcourse navigation system needed for a space capsule on a circumlunar voyage. Stan then was chief of the dynamics analysis branch at NASA Ames when his former boss, Harry Goett, challenged him to do pioneering research in advance of the Apollo mission. High-speed computer processing was in its infancy, and processing vast amounts of data in real time accurately enough to direct a spacecraft to and from the Moon was a daunting challenge."

Marshall Space Flight Center director announces retirement in email today, Huntsville Times

"NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center Director Patrick Scheuermann announced to center staff today that he will retire on Nov. 13. In his email to the Marshall team, Scheuermann did not say what he will do next, but that he and his family will remain in the Tennessee Valley. He has been director of Marshall since 2012. There was also no immediate word on Scheuermann's successor. The center recently announced that Todd May, formerly head of the Space Launch System (SLS) program, would become deputy director. May replaced Teresa Vanhooser, who also retired earlier this year as deputy director."

Bob Farquhar

Keith's note: My friend Robert Farquhar left this life today. He orbited the sun 83 times. He was big on orbits and designed some of the most esoteric and complex spacecraft trajectories ever attempted which were executed with stunning precision. Between ISEE-3's crazy trips around the inner solar system to the recent flyby of Pluto, Bob had a hand in many missions.

The ISEE-3 Reboot effort during which I got to know Bob very well - was spawned by Bob's relentless persistence and was the capstone to a career that spanned decades and saw into the future with immense precision. He was a hacker in his 80s and simply stunned some of the younger folks who worked on our team.

Bob was a steely-eyed missile man and a genuine space cowboy who always knew exactly how to get NASA to do what it needed to do - even if NASA did not know it at the time. Bob taught me that you are never too old to try new things and that being a pain in the ass serves a vital role in the exploration of space.

I went to visit Bob a week or so ago at home. He was weak but still smiled when I reminded him that he and I had agreed to go outside and wave at ISEE-3 when it flies by Earth again in 2029. More to follow in the days ahead.

George Mueller

George Mueller, NASA engineer who helped enable moon landing, dies at 97, Washington Post (Extensive obituary)

"George Mueller, a coolly decisive, hard-driving engineer, scientist and administrator who was given much of the credit for enabling NASA to meet President John F. Kennedy's manned moon landing timetable, as well as for initiating the Skylab and space shuttle programs, died Oct. 12 at his home in Irvine, Calif. He was 97."

Remembering George Mueller, Leader of Early Human Spaceflight, NASA

Berkeley astronomer in sexual harassment case to resign, Nature

"Astronomer Geoffrey Marcy is stepping down as a faculty member at the University of California, Berkeley, following revelations that a university investigation found he had sexually harassed multiple students between 2001 and 2010. ... Marcy has also resigned as principal investigator of the Breakthrough Listen project, a US$100 million initiative announced in July to search for signs of intelligent life in the Universe."

Stinger Ghaffarian Technologies Announces Appointment of Michael Suffredini as President, Commercial Space Division

"Michael T. Suffredini will lead the Commercial Space Division, a new enterprise for SGT. The Commercial Space Division will focus SGT's and its affiliated companies', spaceflight engineering, operations and hardware development capabilities on space related commercial opportunities. Through private and public/private partnerships the division expects to play a significant role in the development of low Earth orbit capabilities to support and foster the growing economy and commercialization of space. Dr. Kam Ghaffarian, the CEO and President of SGT stated "Mike's experience and accomplishments are the perfect match for our Commercial Space Division and he will build a new future for SGT as we embark on the commercialization of space."


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