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Memorial Tributes, Volume 12
FREDERIC C.E. ODER 1919–2006
Elected in 1980
“For leadership in conceiving and developing civil and military satellites.”
BY VANCE COFFMAN
FREDERIC C.E. “FRITZ” ODER, colonel, United States Air Force (retired), and former vice president of Lockheed, died May 11, 2006, in Gloucester, Massachusetts, at the age of 86. He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1980.
In the earliest days of pioneering work on satellite reconnaissance, Fritz Oder was instrumental in transforming what was a theoretical concept of having an “eye in space” into reality. At the time, the United States and Soviet Union were vying politically and militarily, and very little reliable information was available about the USSR’s missile and bomber capabilities. Images collected by early satellites gave U.S. presidents photographic evidence of Soviet activities and enabled them to make decisions that had far-reaching implications for America and its allies. In 2000, for this and other contributions to national security—many of which remain classified—Fritz was named a pioneer in national reconnaissance and was inducted into the Air Force Space and Missile Pioneers Hall of Fame.
Fritz was born October 23, 1919, in Los Angeles, California. In an interview late in his life, he said, “I became interested in space at a very young age, long before there was a national space program. I studied and developed an expertise in geophysics and meteorology, which allowed me to get early exposure to developing payloads and putting them on the rudimentary sounding rockets of the post-World War II era.”