January 05, 2010
A former director of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Lew Allen Jr., passed away Monday night, Jan. 4, at the age of 84, in Potomac Falls, Va. He led the laboratory from 1982 till 1990, during a period that included the launches of the Galileo mission to Jupiter, Magellan to Venus and the Infrared Astronomical Satellite, as well as Voyager 2's Uranus and Neptune flybys.
Allen was born Dec. 30, 1925, in Miami. He studied at the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., and had a distinguished career in the U.S. Army and the Air Force, where he remained until 1982, achieving the rank of four-star general and serving as Chief of Staff of the Air Force.
In 1954, while still an Air Force officer assigned to the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, Allen completed his doctorate in nuclear physics. He specialized in the potentially damaging effects of high-altitude nuclear explosions on the ground and on spacecraft.
After leaving Los Alamos in 1961, Allen served in various scientific posts within the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force. Allen became director of the National Security Agency in 1973. Allen was also a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the Council on Foreign Relations.
Burial is planned for Arlington National Cemetery, but funeral arrangements have not been made yet.
Jane Platt 818-354-0880
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.