CU Mourns Pioneering Space Researcher, Distinguished Professor George Born

Image Credit: University of Colorado

Image Credit: University of Colorado

January 28, 2016 – Pioneering space researcher and University of Colorado Boulder aerospace engineering sciences professor George Born has died. Born was 76 years old.

Born was a major force in making the College of Engineering and Applied Science at CU an internationally recognized institution, and founded the university’s Colorado Center for Astrodynamics Research.

“George was a world-renowned expert in astrodynamics and remote sensing of earth. He had a profound impact on students and faculty and will be deeply missed,” said Robert H. Davis, dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Science.

Born led a distinguished career at NASA, where he made important advances in orbital design and earth surveying techniques. His career stretches back to the Apollo missions, where he performed early work on trajectory design. He played crucial roles in the Mariner and Viking missions to Mars, and served as manager of the Seasat Geophysical Evaluation Team.

Following his service at NASA, he spent 30 years at CU, teaching graduate classes and conducting groundbreaking research in oceanography. He revolutionized the field by developing a suite of tools that demonstrated the power of studying the ocean from space.

Born created new courses at CU, advised dozens of graduate and PhD students, and is the primary author of the textbook Statistical Orbit Determination, which is the leading textbook for graduate-level courses at major universities.

“George was a wonderful man and a giant whose shoulders so many of us stand on,” said Penina Axelrad, chair of aerospace engineering sciences at CU. “His work changed aerospace research, and it is hard to imagine CU without him.”

In 1985, Born founded the Colorado Center for Astrodynamics Research, a center dedicated to the study of astrodynamics and the application of satellites to science, navigation, and remote sensing of the Earth and planets. He led the center as director for 28 years, and was named director emeritus in 2013.

Born was a Member of the National Academy of Engineering, the recipient of nine NASA awards and medals, a fellow of the American Astronautical Society as well as the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and was named a 2015 Distinguished Professor of the University of Colorado, the university’s highest faculty honor.

A campus memorial service is being planned for February.