PASADENA, Calif. – Former JPL Director Bruce C. Murray died today at the age of 81 after a long illness.
Murray was at the helm of JPL from 1976 to 1982, during a very busy time for planetary exploration – when the Viking spacecraft landed on Mars, and Voyager 1 and 2 were launched and flew by Jupiter and Saturn.
After leaving JPL, Murray was a professor of planetary science and geology at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, which manages JPL for NASA.
As JPL director, Murray faced a rapidly shrinking budget, along with the rest of NASA.
Murray salvaged for JPL the Galileo mission to Jupiter, brought the American portion of the joint Netherlands/United Kingdom/U.S. Infrared Astronomy Satellite to JPL, and Caltech gained the project’s science data center.
“He worked tirelessly to save our nation’s planetary exploration capability at a tumultuous time when there was serious consideration for curtailing future missions,” said current JPL Director Charles Elachi. “Long after returning to Caltech as a professor he continued to be an important voice in expressing the importance of space exploration.”