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Burton I. Edelson
Commander, United States Navy
National Aeronautice And Space Administration
National Aeronautice & Space Administration (NASA) Seal
Industry Pioneer Edelson Dies
January 8, 2002

BI Edelson PHOTO

Dr. Burt Edelson, 75, director of the Institute for Applied Space Research, died Sunday.

He had been in a coma after a massive heart attack and life support systems were removed after all hope for recovery was gone, said Scott Chase, the president of Strategis Group and a long-time professional associate. Edelson was a driving force behind the Galileo Probe to Jupiter, the Advanced Communications Technology Satellite and the Hubble Telescope while associate administrator at NASA for Space Science and Applications, Chase added.

Among Edelson's other key roles, he was director of Comsat Labs and chairman of the board of the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts.

Edelson's funeral is to be at the Washington Hebrew Congregation in Bethesda, Maryland, on Thursday, Chase said. Internment will be at Arlington National Cemetery.

Edelson is survived by his wife, Betty, and two sons.



Bob Jacobs
Headquarters, NASA, Washington January 9, 2002
(Phone: 202/358-1600)
RELEASE: 02-06

DEATH OF BURT EDELSON HIGHLIGHTS HIS NASA LEGACY

More than 15 years after he left NASA, the late Dr. Burt Edelson's legacy can still be seen in NASA's Space Science and Earth Science programs.

Dr. Edelson passed away January 6, 2002, in New York City, where he was visiting family and friends. He was 75.

Between 1982 and 1986, he was NASA's Associate Administrator for Space Science and Applications. Soon after arriving, he approved the program that would provide for the development of new instruments for the Hubble Space Telescope.

"He had the vision and foresight to know that Hubble had to be maintained and upgraded," said Dr. Edward Weiler, Associate Administrator for Space Science, who was the Hubble program scientist in the 1980s. "He allowed us to start
development of the second Wide-Field/Planetary Camera, which was installed during the first Hubble servicing mission and became the telescope's workhorse scientific instrument."

Coincidentally, on January 8, only two days after Dr. Edelson's death, a NASA Space Science Update unveiled the latest findings from the camera: evidence that a substantial portion of the stars in the universe formed relatively quickly after the big bang.

Dr. Edelson's influence can also be seen in NASA's Earth Science Enterprise, which grew out of Mission to Planet Earth, a program originally proposed in 1986 and formalized in the late 1980s.

"Burt Edelson sponsored the concepts that became Mission to Planet Earth, though it didn't become a program until after he had left NASA," said Dr. Ghassem Asrar, Associate Administrator for Earth Science.

Dr. Edelson was a long-time advocate of the Landsat program and other applications of remote sensing research, said Dr. Asrar, and spent much of his professional life working for improvements in telecommunications satellite technology. He sponsored the development of NASA's Advanced Communications
Technology Satellite, which was launched in 1993.

A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Class of 1947, he went on to receive his M.S. and Ph. D. degrees from Yale University in Metallurgy as part of his military service.

He was assigned to the Naval Research Laboratory in the mid-1950s, where he started a series of distinguished space applications projects in navigation and positioning and in 1959 started the U.S. Navy program in satellite communications. Commander Edelson was assigned from 1962-65 to the new White House National Space Council. Upon his retirement from the Navy in 1967, he joined Comsat Corp. as the Deputy Director of the fledgling Comsat Laboratories. He
became its Director in 1972.

Dr. Edelson provided the vision and leadership for a large number of new satellite communications components, systems and applications, including the development of small ground and ship terminals, space teleports, and geostationary platforms. Dr. Edelson retired from Comsat as a Senior Vice President in 1982. He retired from NASA in 1986 and became a Fellow at the Foreign Policy Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, School of Advanced and International Studies, in
Washington.

His desire to have a satellite communications R&D center with engineering capability resulted in his 1991 founding of the Institute for Applied Space Research at the School of Engineering and Applied Science of the George Washington
University in Washington. He remained active directing R&D projects, primarily in high data-rate satellite communications, until his death.

Dr. Edelson co-authored a number of books on satellite communications and had over 75 technical publications. He chaired national and international committees on science and engineering and served on the Boards of a number of emerging
companies. He always emphasized the global nature of space and co-founded a number of international space programs including the Japan-U.S. Science Technology and Space Applications Program.  He was a Member of the International Academy of Astronautics, a Life Fellow of the IEEE, and a
Fellow of the AIAA, the AAAS and the British Interplanetary Society. He was a Member of the Cosmos and Army-Navy Club. He received numerous awards including the U.S. Navy Legion of Merit, the Yale University Wilbur Cross Medal, the NASA Exceptional Service Medal and the SSPI Hall of Fame Award.

He is survived by his beloved wife of 49 years, Betty Good Edelson; his sons Stephen, John and Daniel and their wives Margaret, Catherine and Vivian; and his grandchildren Rachel, Kate, David, Rose and William.



It is with sadness that we inform you of the unexpected death of our Director, Professor Burt Edelson. 

Professor Edelson died following a massive heart attack January 6, 2002 in New York City, where he was visiting family and friends.

Professsor Edelson was a true pioneer of space science and applications and for more than 40 years provided visionary leadership especially in the field of satellite communications.

A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Class of 1947, he went on to receive his M.S. and Ph. D. degrees from Yale University in Metallurgy as part of his military service.

He was assigned to the Naval Research Laboratory in the mid-1950s where he started a series of distinguished space applications projects in navigation and positioning and in 1959 started the U.S. Navy program in satellite communications.  Commander Edelson was assigned from 1962-65 to the new White House National Space Council. 

Upon his retirement from the Navy in 1967, he joined Comsat Corporation, as the Deputy Director of the fledgling Comsat Laboratories. He became its Director in
     1972, building it to an internationally acclaimed R&D Center in satellite communications.

Dr. Edelson provided the vision and leadership for a large number of new satellite communications components, systems and applications including the development of small ground and ship terminals, space teleports, and Geo-stationary platforms. Dr. Edelson retired from Comsat as a Senior Vice President in 1982.  He then joined NASA as its Associate Administrator for Space Science and Applications.  He reestablished space science in NASA by initiating or directing the "Big Five" science programs, Hubble, Cassini, Galileo, Magellan, and the MARS Explorer, In addition he provided the initial leadership to the Mission To Planet Earth program and the Advanced Communications Technology (ACTS) Satellite.  He had responsibility for two NASA Centers, the Goddard Space Flight Center and the Jet Propulsion Laboratories. 

Dr. Edelson retired from NASA in 1986 and became a Fellow at the Foreign Policy Institute of the Johns Hopkins University SAIS. 

His desire to have a satellite communications R&D center with engineering  capability resulted in 1991 with his founding the Institute for Applied Space Research at the School of Engineering and Applied Science of the George Washington University.  He remained active directing R&D projects, primarily in
high data rate satellite communications, until his death.  He was 75.

Dr. Edelson co-authored a number of books on satellite communications and had over 75 technical publications. He chaired national and international committees on science and engineering and served on the Boards of a number of emerging companies.  He always emphasised the global nature of space  and co-founded a number of international space programs including the Japan-US Science  Technology and Space Applications Program.  He was a Member of the International Academy of Astronautics, a Life Fellow of the IEEE, and a Fellow of the AIAA, the AAAS and the British Interplanetary Society.  He was a Member of the Cosmos and Army-Navy Club.  He received numerous awards including the US
     Navy Legion of Merit, the Yale University Wilbur Cross Medal, the NASA Exceptional Service Medal and the SSPI Hall of Fame Award.

He is survived by his beloved wife of 49 years, Betty Good Edelson; his sons Stephen, John, and Daniel and their wives Margaret, Catherine, and Vivian; and his grandchildren Rachel, Kate, David, Rose and William.

Graveside services will be held at Arlington National Cemetery on Thursday, January 10 at 9:00 a.m.  Guests should arrive by 8:30.

A memorial service will be held Thursday, January 10 at the Cosmos Club, 2121 Massachusetts Ave, N.W., Washington DC 20008, at 1:30 p.m. There will be an opportunity to visit with the family following the service.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Yale University Engineering Alumni Fund.  Checks should be payable to Yale University and designated for the Engineering Alumni Fund in memory of Burton I. Edelson.  The mailing address is Office of Development, Yale University, PO Box 2038, New Haven, CT 06521 (Attn: Drew Ackerman).

Directions for Arlington Cemetery: Enter through the main entrance on Memorial Drive directly across from the Memorial Bridge.  At the security checkpoint, identify yourself as a guest for the "Edelson service".  You will be directed to the Administration Building.  Inside there is a waiting area where cemetary personnel will announce the time and place to assemble the automobile procession.

Neil Helm
Joseph Pelton 
Deputy Directors Institute for Applied Space Research
The George Washington University



Goddard Space Center Press Release:

Former NASA Associate Administrator for Space Science and Application Dies

Former NASA Associate Administrator for Space and Applications Dr. Burt
Edelson died on January 6. He was 75.

Dr. Edelson served as Associate Administration for Space Science and Applications between 1982 and 1986. During Dr. Edelson's tenure he approved the program, which provided the development of new instruments and camera for the Hubble Space Telescope. Concidentally on January 8, only two days after Dr. Edelson's death, the latest findings of star formation using the Hubble's camera was unveiled in a NASA Space Science Update.

Dr. Edelson's long-time advocacy of the Landsat program and other applications of remote sensing research led to the development of NASA's Advanced Communications Technology Satellite and formalization of NASA's Mission to Planet Earth Program.

Once retired from NASA in 1986, Dr. Edelson became a Fellow at the Foreign Policy Institute of Johns Hopkins University, School of Advanced and International Studies, in Washington. His continuous desire to have a satellite communications R&D center with engineering capability resulted in his 1991 founding of the Institute for Applied Science of the George Washington University in Washington and he remained active directing R&D projects, primarily in high data-rate satellite.

Dr. Edelson co-authored a number of books on satellite communications and had over 75 technical publications. He chaired national and international committees on science and engineering and served on the Boards of a number of emerging companies. He always emphasized the global nature of space and co-founded a number of international space programs. and received numerous awards including the U.S. Navy Legion of Merit, the Yale University Wilbur Cross Medal, the NASA Exceptional Service Medal and the SSPI Hall of Fame Award.

He is survived by his wife of 49 years, Betty Good Edelson, his sons Stephen, John and Daniel and their wives and four grandchildren.

EDELSON, BURTON I
CDR   US NAVY
VETERAN SERVICE DATES: 06/06/1945 - 12/31/1967
DATE OF BIRTH: 07/31/1926
DATE OF DEATH: 01/06/2002
DATE OF INTERMENT: 01/10/2002
BURIED AT: SECTION 68  SITE 1538
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY


Posted: 18  March 2002  Updated: 6 September 2004 Updated: 13 November 2005
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