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IVAN A. GETTING
1912–2003

Elected in 1968


“For development of radar systems and technical weapons; advice to national agencies.”


BY GEORGE PAULIKAS

SUBMITTED BY THE NAE HOME SECRETARY


IVAN A. GETTING, founding president of the Aerospace Corporation and inventor of the global positioning system (GPS) satellite navigation concept, died October 11, 2003, at his home in Coronado, California, at the age of 91. Getting was one of a generation of outstanding individuals who held technical leadership positions from the beginning of World War II until the end of the cold war in the 1990s. His autobiography, All in a Lifetime, is subtitled “Science in the Defense of Democracy,” an apt description of his life and career.

The son of immigrants from Slovakia, Getting was born in New York City on January 18, 1912. He attended grade school and high school in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was an undergraduate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) from 1929 to 1933 as an Edison Scholar, then, as a Rhodes Scholar, attended Oxford, where he received the D. Phil. in astrophysics in 1935. He was a junior fellow at Harvard from 1935 to 1940. A seminal paper written with Arthur Holly Compton in 1935 on possible cosmic-ray anisotropies is still widely cited in the scientific literature for its description of the Compton-Getting effect.

Getting might have had a brilliant academic career, but world events interfered, and he spent the rest of his life working on and advising the government on national defense issues. In 1940, he



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