Dr Henry Richter

Dr Henry Richter


Dr Henry Richter is a native of Long Beach, California, and has spent most of his life in that state. After his naval career as an electronic technician’s mate, he then went to the California Institute of Technology where he received a BS (1952) and PhD (1956) in chemistry, with physics and electrical engineering minors.

Dr Richter was hired by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), which later became incorporated into the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). He was a leader in the development of America’s first earth satellite, Explorer I. He insisted that they took a radiation detector on board, which led to the discovery of the Van Allen Radiation Belts. Then he oversaw the development of the scientific instrumentation for the Ranger program, which included the first spacecraft to land (or rather, intentionally crash) on the moon. He also worked on the instrumentation for the Mariner program (the first US space missions to Mercury, Venus, and Mars),1 and the Surveyor program (the first spacecraft to perform soft landings on the moon).

After leaving JPL in 1960, he became the Vice President of Electro-Optical Systems, then worked as the Development Manager of UCLA’s Mountain Park Research Campus, owned an electronics manufacturing company, then became communications engineer for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, and finally retired after spending three decades as a communications consultant to fire and police departments.

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Helpful Resources

Spacecraft Earth
by Dr Henry Richter with David F Coppedge
US $14.00
Soft cover