Jack Fisher, Rest in Peace

by Andy Ott

Jack Fisher, the key founder, architect and manager of this website (www.HughesSCGHeritage.com) capturing Hughes Space and Communications Group history from 1960 to 2000 passed away November 2, 2020 at the age of eighty-eight after a battle with lung cancer. His legacy includes his wife Myra of 64 years, two children (Robert and Julianne) and four grandchildren. Jack retired from Hughes SCG in 1992 but continued to manage this website until the illness would no longer allow. 

Jack was born in Berwyn Illinois in 1932. His avid interest in airplanes during WWII was key to his graduation from the University of Illinois (BSAE); then USC (MSAE) and UCLA (Hughes Executive Education Program). Prior to joining Hughes in 1961, Jack worked for Lockheed in trajectory design and optimization of several launch vehicle and aircraft systems. This experience paved the way for Jack to join the Orbital Dynamics Section of Hughes.

Jack’s first assignment at Hughes was directing the trajectory and orbit design for the Hughes Lunar Orbiter proposal to NASA. This was in addition to various studies of Surveyor transit trajectories. He was assigned to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for 6 months to learn Ranger trajectory procedures and support Ranger 5 flight operations and became responsible for Ranger 6 trajectory design. Jack became the Group Head of the Guidance and Trajectory Department for the Surveyor program.Jack became a nationally recognized expert of systems engineering in spacecraft development and mission design for commercial, NASA and DoD programs, including:

  *Managing Spacecraft Systems Engineering Laboratory that provided mechanical, electrical, launch systems and mass properties expertise, including oversight.

  *Led Pioneer Venus and Galileo Systems Engineering which resulted in launch and delivery of six spacecraft to Venus and a probe to Jupiter that increased our knowledge of both by orders of magnitude.

  *Planned and directed Systems Engineering Training Program at SCG that resulted in training of several hundred Systems Engineers. Planned and presented a 3-day seminar on Mil Std Systems Engineering on both the East and West coasts, a seminar to General Motors Executive committee and hundreds of top executives both in the United States and GM Europe familiarizing them with Spacecraft Systems Engineering processes, and a 5-day NASA Systems Engineering Course to Goddard, JPL, Langley, Lewis, and Ames.

Jack has published and presented numerous papers to several professional societies and has consulted with a number of organizations including the Royal Australian Air Force. Jack also consulted with NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory and Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) project leading the Project Manager’s Independent Review Team.

8 thoughts on “Jack Fisher, Rest in Peace

  1. Jack was an amazing guy to work with. Like so many of the people I met at Hughes Aircraft, they were as impressive as human beings as they were at their technology. His energy for the exploration, astronomy, and high performance topics was infectious and you couldn’t help getting excited about the projects he pitched. My last project with him was SOFIA and that was a long time ago. Thanks to his family for sharing him with his work. Many of us will miss him too. Prayers for him and all his loved ones. Memory Eternal.


  2. I am sorry to hear of his Passing, My condolences to his family and friends. I don’t remember Jack while I was employed at Hughes Aircraft from We1955 to 1966. We were about the same age, but remember him well from his website. We will be very lucky if we can find somwone with half the talent to take over his website. If not a lot of history will be lost Again my condolences to his family and friends.


    • Hi Roland, It took a while to find the password, etc.for this website, but now that I have I will keep posting for Steve Dorfman and Andy Ott. Once there’s no one left to post anything (hopefully a long time from now) I will find a way to keep the content up. I have been told that there are places to archive old websites at no cost. -Julianne


  3. There’s always a mixture of regret and profound respect to hear of the passing of one whose shoulders we stood on and for those still in the field, continue to stand on.
    Condolences to the family, and thank you for sharing him with us all those years.


  4. In 1972 we were forming a team to compete for the Pioneer Venus program to land probes on Venus and to also build a spacecraft to orbit Venus. We surprised many by winning the contract from the incumbent, TRW, This was new territory for Hughes, a new mission and a new customer, the Ames Research Center of NASA and we needed to form a team to do this
    complex job. System engineering of the hardware and mission was especially challenging. Jack Fisher took on that job and did am amazing job. He recruited an impressive group of system engineers (Andy Ott was one). He brought the system engineering disciplines to bear and he managed the difficult external interfaces with Ames, JPL, the DSN, the scientists and the launch vehicles. And he did his job with the quiet competence and confidence that was his hallmark. The spectacular success of the mission was evidence of how well he did his job. It was my pleasure to work with him right through the successful culmination of the mission in 1978.
    Years later Jack came up with the idea of place where the history of Hughes could be recorded by those who participated in it and this blog was formed. It is evidence of much he was valued by his family that his daughter, Julianne, has volunteered to keep it going., an act of love and respect. We Hughes veterans of the beneficiaries of this generosity and owe her our thanks.


  5. Our deep condolences, he was one of the pioneers that help shape our experience at HSC, and we payed it forward through our later careers elsewhere.


  6. Julianne,

    I had many great mentors during my career at Hughes then Boeing, and your dad was one of the best even through he was outside my home organization. He always took the time to explain not only what we were doing ,but also why we were doing it. I use that same maxim to this day. Thank you so much for keeping this legacy, his legacy, alive.


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