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Home > Press > NSS Pays Tribute to Space Pioneer Frederick I. Ordway III

Fred Ordway at the 2011 NSS International Space Development Conference for a special book signing
Fred Ordway at the 2011 NSS International Space Development Conference for a special book signing

Frederick I. Ordway III, 87, of Huntsville, AL, passed away Tuesday. Fred was an icon of the space community. He joined with the L5 Society and the National Space Institute which later became today's National Space Society. He served on the NSS Board of Directors and then on the Board of Governors. Fred was one of the most active Governors, making nearly every meeting and participating in many NSS International Space Development Conferences (ISDCs) as a speaker and panelist. The members of the National Space Society will miss him greatly.

NSS Pays Tribute to Space Pioneer Frederick I. Ordway III

Washington DC | Posted on July 7th, 2014

National Space Society Vice President Karen Mermel said, "Fred was always willing to help and was one of the friendliest men I knew."

Fred Ordway was awarded the 2012 NSS Space Pioneer Award for a Lifetime of Service to the Space Community. The award honors him for his many contributions to the advancement of space technology and to the space community, which include working extensively with Dr. Wernher von Braun, and being the lead science advisor on the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, about which he wrote a retrospective. Fred showed the video 2001: Making of a Myth, to the NSS Huntsville chapter, HAL5, just a couple of months ago. It does feature him.

Fred was born in New York City and grew up in Maine. He studied geosciences at Harvard University and later studied abroad at the Sorbonne and other institutions. After working in mining for a while, he got involved in space, working for Reaction Motors, Inc. (RMI) of New Jersey. There he worked on a liquid propellant rocket.

After his rocketry work, Fred joined Republic Aviation, Inc. in New York. Later he worked at Marshall Space Flight Center. One day in New York City, when meeting with his friend Arthur C. Clarke, Ordway was introduced to film director Stanley Kubrick who then invited Fred to be technical advisor on 2001: A Space Odyssey. Fred would spend three years working on that breakthrough film project. Fred then became a professor at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, and later served as a special assistant to Dr. Robert Seamans, who was the first Director of the agency which grew to become the Department of Energy (DOE). Fred was very active in studying and preserving space history. Ordway wrote many books and over 350 articles about space travel. Ordway was the author of Visions of Spaceflight: Images from the Ordway Collection, The Rocket Team: From the V-2 to the Saturn Moon Rocket, and (with Wernher von Braun) History of Rocketry and Space Travel.

Fred has also won numerous awards. The Arthur C. Clarke Award for Lifetime Achievement was presented to him in October 2013 in Washington, D.C.


About National Space Society
NSS is an independent non-profit educational membership organization dedicated to the creation of a spacefaring civilization. NSS is widely acknowledged as the preeminent citizen's voice on space, with over 50 chapters in the United States and around the world. The Society publishes Ad Astra magazine, an award-winning periodical chronicling the most important developments in space.

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Lynne Zielinski

Phone: 202.429.1600

Copyright © National Space Society

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