John New, 89; NASA engineer pioneered satellite tests
John New was founding director of a satellite-testing program at Goddard Space Flight Center.
By Matt Schudel Washington Post Staff Writer Sunday, August 15, 2010
John New, 89, an engineer at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center who developed a series of methods and facilities for testing satellites during the early days of space flight, died July 28 at the Renaissance Gardens assisted living facility in Silver Spring. He had pneumonia.
In 1959, Mr. New joined the recently formed Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt as the founding director of what became known as the Test and Evaluation Division. With meager resources, he set up a laboratory in a converted warehouse and soon expanded it to include dozens of buildings. "He was an early pioneer at NASA," said Ed Powers, an engineer and colleague who has worked at Goddard since 1962. "He was absolutely the initiator of this operation. Many, if not most of the major facilities he established in the early '60s and '70s are still in active use." The expansive NASA laboratory that Mr. New designed became the model for others around the world and was featured in documentaries. He accompanied many dignitaries on visits, including "Star Trek" actor Leonard Nimoy and entertainer Ethel Merman. He also formed a company that built energy-efficient homes in Prince George's County. John Calhoun New was born Aug. 9, 1920, in Warrensburg, Mo., and grew up on a nearby farm. He graduated from the University of Missouri in 1943, joined the Navy and spent the final two years of World War II as an engineer at the Naval Ordnance Laboratory at White Oak. He received a master's degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Maryland in 1950. His wife of 55 years, Mildred Estes New, died in 2000. Survivors include two children, Deborah Lowry of Alexandria and Brian New of Sellersburg, Ind.; and a grandson.