Dr. Rodger Doxsey, head of the Space Telescope Science Institute's (STScI) Hubble Mission Office, passed away on October 13 after a prolonged illness. The New York native was 62 years old.
Doxsey oversaw Hubble science operations at STScI in Baltimore, Md., for nearly three decades. Astronomers credit Doxsey for being one of the key Hubble program people who had a working knowledge of the extremely complex Hubble Space Telescope from top to bottom. Doxsey dedicated his career to making Hubble a success, working closely with the scientists and engineers at the institute that operate the telescope, the engineers at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and the scientists from around the world who use the telescope.
He arrived at the institute in 1981, nine years before the Hubble Space Telescope's launch. Riccardo Giacconi, then the STScI director recruited him to be the institute's Mission Operations Scientist. Doxsey was part of the science operations teams for the SAS-3 and HEAO-1 X-ray space observatories. The science operations for those missions were at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where Doxsey earned a doctorate in physics.
"Rodger was the heart and soul of Hubble here at the institute. He innately knew everything about the space telescope, from the smallest anomaly to the breadth of the extraordinary science delivered by the telescope he had worked with for over 28 years," said STScI director Matt Mountain.
Doxsey was recognized numerous times for his career achievements. NASA awarded him the 1991 Distinguished Public Service Medal — the highest honor NASA confers to a non-government employee. Doxsey was honored for "outstanding leadership in developing the concepts of the scientific operation of the Hubble Space Telescope, as well as the subsequent implementation of systems to accomplish these ends."
The recipient of the prestigious Van Biesbroeck Prize in 2004, Doxsey was cited by the American Astronomical Society for "his outstanding, unselfish dedication to making the Hubble Space Telescope one of the most scientifically productive telescopes of all time." The prize honors an individual for long-term extraordinary or unselfish service to astronomy, often beyond the requirements of his or her paid position.