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Air Force Space and Missile Pioneer dies at 86

AIR FORCE SPACE COMMAND NEWS SERVICE -- Retired Col. Frederic "Fritz" C.E. Oder passed away May 11 at Addison-Gilbert Hospital in Gloucester, Mass., from complications of congestive heart failure at the age of 86.

Colonel Oder was one of the original ten Space Pioneers named by the National Space Club of Washington D.C. in 1989.

He was honored again when Air Force Space Command established the Air Force Space and Missile Pioneers Award in 1997 and was one of the first twelve pioneers inducted into the Air Force Space and Missile Pioneers Hall of Fame that same year.

Significantly, Colonel Oder founded the WS-117L program which developed satellites that were programmable and recoverable, which the Air Force could place in high-precision orbits. Moreover, his associates could command and monitor functions within the satellite by either preprogramming or adding instructions from the ground. He successfully advocated the development of a recoverable satellite. This was an aspect of the program which President Dwight D. Eisenhower approved.

Colonel Oder retired from the Air Force in September 1960. After his retirement, Colonel Oder worked for Eastman as Assistant Director of Research and Engineering of the Apparatus and Optical Division. He joined the Lockheed Missiles and Space Company, in 1966, as vice president, Space Systems Programs and Engineering. He retired from Lockheed as executive vice president and general manager.

In 1980, the National Academy of Engineering elected Colonel Oder a member "for [his] leadership in conceiving and developing civil and military satellites." Five years later, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics awarded him its Goddard Astronautical Medal "for his contributions over three decades to the pioneering development and successful operation of over 200 civil and military satellites."

(Information courtesy of AFSPC History Office)