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Historical Photo of the Month - May 2006

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Eberhardt Rechtin
Photograph Number P-1490B

Eberhardt "Eb" Rechtin, a former JPL employee, passed away on April 14, 2006. He was referred to by many as the "Father of the Deep Space Network" for his role in designing the network of space communication and tracking stations located around the world. The photo above was taken in September 1960, when he was Chief of the Electronics Research Section.

Rechtin was born January 16, 1926 in New Jersey. He earned two electrical engineering degrees from Caltech -- a B.S. in 1946 and a Ph.D. in 1950. He began working at JPL as a research engineer in 1948, designing missile radio guidance systems. He later worked on instrumentation for Explorer and Pioneer, then on communications for various Mariner and Ranger spacecraft. He was promoted to Chief of the Electronics Research Section, then Chief of the Telecommunications Division. He was appointed Program Director for Engineering and Operations for the Deep Space Instrumentation Facility and later became Assistant Laboratory Director for Tracking and Data Acquisition.

Rechtin left JPL in November 1967 to join the Office of the Secretary of Defense as the Director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency. He served as Principal Deputy Director of Defense for Research and Engineering, and as Assistant Secretary of Defense for Telecommunications. He was well known for his work in systems engineering, and was the author of several books on the subject.

Archival Sources: JPL Archives Biographical File, Rechtin's "JPL Story", a previous Historical Photo of the Month, History Collection document 7-13, JPL and Caltech Telephone books, and various Lab-Oratory articles. For more information about Dr. Rechtin, or about the history of JPL, contact the JPL Archives.


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