(1960 to 1977) as the nation’s military space program grew to robust maturity. Aerospace was involved in the development of a family of launch vehicles and satellite systems for communication, navigation, weather, and surveillance, as well as several classified missions. Getting also initiated the planning activities at Aerospace that ultimately led to GPS and was intimately involved in the plans to use Air Force rockets, such as Atlas and Titan, to launch American astronauts into orbit aboard the Mercury and Gemini spacecraft.
As the military space program grew, so did Aerospace Corporation. Getting was always aware of the special role of Aerospace in the planning and development of military space systems, and he made a point of meeting for lunch with every newly hired member of the technical staff to explain the company’s mission. He constantly reminded his management team to “hire people at least as smart as you.” Now, almost half a century later, the corporation still bears the strong imprint of Ivan Getting.
Getting was a gregarious, compassionate, and outgoing man. Friends tell of a time when he anchored his boat, the Sirena, at Catalina Island off the California coast, with quite a few people on board for drinks and dinner. It was a miserable night, cold, rainy, and windy. In the midst of the libations, there was a loud crash and the Sirena rolled. A young couple trying to moor their small sailboat, which had no motor, had lost control and run into the Sirena in the foul weather. In the middle of the party, Getting donned his rain gear, got into his dingy, and towed them to their mooring—then invited them to join the party!
With his puckish sense of humor, Getting loved to recount his experiences and describe his encounters with the great—and not so great. He was also an excellent pianist. Overwhelmed each year by innumerable Christmas parties, he decided one year to hold the Aerospace management Christmas party in September to ease the crush. Thus, on a warm southern California September afternoon, he appeared, decked out in a Santa Claus hat, playing Christmas carols on the piano. During breaks in the music, he could be seen showing off his prized orchids and having a great time.