PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --
Air Force Space Command inducted four innovators into the Air Force Space and Missile Pioneers Hall of Fame here Aug. 28.
The 2018 honorees - retired Brig. Gen. Joseph D. Mirth, retired Col. Robert W. "Rob" Roy, Dr. Gladys B. West and Mr. William N. Barker - were recognized for their notable contributions to the space and missile programs that the Air Force uses today.
The inductees and their families were greeted by more than 100 attendees at the Hall of Fame luncheon that was presided over by Gen. Jay Raymond, Commander of AFSPC and Joint Force Space Component Commander.
"The pioneers that we're honoring today broke many, many barriers -- social, technological and scientific," said Raymond. "And in doing so, they not only impacted the space community, but their achievements have made a significant global impact."
Mirth was involved in the development and production of the Corona, Samos, and Midas satellites, and the Agent upper-stage vehicle, at what was Lockheed Missiles and Space Company in Sunnyvale, Calif. as a lieutenant in 1959. In the 1960s, Mirth served as project officer for acceptance, processing and launch at Vandenberg AFB for some Corona, and all Samos, Gambit and Gambit-cubed imaging satellites, Midas infrared detection satellites and Snapshot-10A. He served as the Air Force Space Shuttle Program director in the 1970s, and oversaw the development of Space Launch Complex Six and ancillary facilities at Vandenberg AFB, the Consolidated Space Operations Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., the "controlled mode" firing room at Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas, and the Shuttle Payload Integration Facility at Kennedy Space Center, Fla.
"It was a wonderful experience in our lives and this award just really makes it extra special," said Mirth.
Roy oversaw several dozen Matador missile tests at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. in the 1950s and helped design an "integrated checkout equipment" prototype after realizing the need for standardized procedures and equipment. Between 1958 and 1964 Roy served as the chief launch control officer at Vandenberg AFB. He oversaw activation of SLCs One, Three andFour, and controlled more than a dozen of the earliest Discoverer/Corona launches from those complexes. Roy introduced the "task sequencing" concept that ensured orderly cross-subsystem checkout among different contractors as controller for nearly two dozen Atlas-Arena launches that sent highly classified payloads into orbit.
"The pioneers, and all of the selectees in the hall of fame, I salute you. You all are my heroes," said Roy.
Dr. West, who was unable to attend the luncheon, is known as one of the "Hidden Figures" women who computed for the U.S. military prior to electronic systems. She was hired in 1956 as a mathematician at the U.S. Naval Weapons Laboratory where she participated in a trailblazing, award-winning astronomical study that proved the regularity of Pluto's motion relative to Neptune in the early 1960s. From the mid-1970s through the 1980s, West programmed an IBM 7030 "Stretch" computer using algorithms to account for variations in gravitational, tidal, and other forces for an extremely accurate feed geodetic Earth model, a geoid, which ultimately became the Global Positioning System orbit.
Mr. Barker began his career with a military tour as an orbital analyst and operational crew leader in Cheyenne Mountain. He later introduced sequential processing, a new method for updating orbital parameters that greatly reduced computational run-times. As a government civilian during the 1970s, he led a "special perturbations for applied astrodynamics" project and developed stand-alone software for predicting satellite re-entries. During the mid-1980s, he developed SATRAK, a PC-based satellite tracking program widely used by the Air Force. Barker later oversaw the development and deployment of the Astrodynamics Support Workstation and High Accuracy Catalog at the Joint Space Operations Center.
"Becoming a member of the Air Force Space and Missile Pioneers Hall of Fame is very special to me, and I share the award with a host of colleagues and supporters," said Barker.
The purpose of the Air Force Space and Missile Pioneers Award, formalized into an official Air Force award in 1997, is four-fold: to recognize individuals who played a significant role in the history of Air Force space and missile programs; educate AFSPC, Air Force, other Department of Defense members and the general public about the contributions of significant figures in Air Force space and missile history; generate interest in the study of Air Force space and missile history; and to encourage Air Force personnel to appreciate and understand their space and missile heritage.
"These heroes built the foundation of a true revolution in space and paved the way for AFSPC and our Air Force," said Raymond. "Their contributions continue to have a broad impact on our American way of life - we truly stand on the shoulders of these giants."