Pierce, John Robinson (1910–2002)
John Pierce was an American communications engineer who is commonly referred to as the father
of the communications satellite for his work on it, beginning in 1954 (although the concept had first been
suggested by Arthur C. Clarke.. Pierce was
employed for 35 years as an engineer at Bell Telephone Laboratories (rising
to become executive director of the Research-Communications Principles Division),
where he coined the term "transistor," and then at the California Institute
of Technology and JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory).
He urged NASA to build a satellite based on
his design, and it was launched in 1960 as Echo 1. The project's success led to the construction and 1962 launch of the
first commercial communications satellite, Telstar 1. Pierce was among several engineers and scientists who, in the early years
of the Space Age, cast doubt on the feasibility of interstellar
travel.1 A similar position was adopted by Edward Purcell and Sebastien von Hoerner.
- Pierce, J. R. "Relativity and Space Travel," Proceedings of the
Institute of Radio Engineers, 47, 1053 (1959).
ENGINEERS AND SPACE SCIENTISTS