Richard Battin
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Richard Horace (Dick) Battin| loving husband, father, grandfather, engineer, applied mathematician and educator | died peacefully on February 8, 2014 at Emerson Hospital in Concord, MA. Dick was born on March 3, 1925 to Martha Scheu and Horace L. Battin in Atlantic City, NJ. He developed and led the analytic and software design of the Apollo spacecraft primary control, guidance and navigation system that landed men on the moon. Dick received a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering in 1945 and a Ph.D. in applied mathematics in 1951| both from MIT. He received an Honorary Doctor of Science Degree in 1999 from Texas A&M University. From 1951 to 1956 he was an Assistant Director of the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory and from 1956 to 1958 senior staff member at Arthur D. Little, Inc. In 1958 he returned to the Instrumentation Laboratory (later named the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory) and subsequently served as Technical Director, Apollo Mission Development and Laboratory Associate Director. He retired from Draper in 1987 as Associate Head of the NASA program department and continued his MIT teaching activities until 2010. At MIT he was senior lecturer in the Department of Aeronautics & Astronautics, teaching at MIT since 1946. In 1972 he and colleague David G. Hoag were presented the AIAA Louis W. Hill Space Transportation Award for leadership in the hardware and software design of the Apollo spacecraft primary control, guidance, and navigation system which first demonstrated the feasibility of onboard space navigation during the historic flight of Apollo 8. In 1978 he received the AIAA Mechanics and Control of Flight Award for invaluable contributions to the on-board navigation and guidance for the Apollo missions. In 1987 he received the AIAA Pendray Aerospace Literature Award for sustained and outstanding contributions to literature in astrodynamics, control, and applied mathematics which have led to significant advances in strategic missile and planetary navigation systems. He received the AIAA von Karman Lectureship in Astronautics for 1989 to honor an individual who has performed notably and distinguished himself technically in the field of astronautics. Dicks von Karman lecture, entitled Some Funny Things Happened on the Way to the Moon, was given at dozens of AIAA local meetings throughout the country. Dick was presented the 1996 Dirk Brouwer Award by the American Astronautical Society; received the inaugural 2000 Tycho Brahe Award by the Institute of Navigation. He also received the 2002 AIAA Aerospace Guidance, Navigation, and Control Award for contributions to the theory and practice of astrodynamics which guided our astronauts to the moon, and for articulating these concepts to a multitude of students. He received the 2002 AIAA Summerfield Book Award for the AIAA Education Series book, An Introduction to the Mathematics and Methods of Astrodynamics, an excellent source for both classical results and recent research, most of it generated by the author. He is the coauthor of Random Processes in Automatic Control (1956) with the late J. Halcombe Laning and author of Astronautical Guidance (1964). He is an Honorary Fellow of the AIAA and a Fellow of the American Astronautical Society and is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the International Academy of Astronautics. As MIT Adjunct Professor, Dick taugh t and inspired many of the leaders in the guidance and control community throughout this country and abroad. Three of the twelve astronauts who walked on the moon were, at one time, his graduate students. The first woman space shuttle astronaut from MIT was his teaching assistant. In recognition of outstanding teaching, the students of the MIT Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics honored him in 1981 with their first Teaching Award. He was dedicated to excellence in his teaching and was known for his ability to i nspire others to maximize their potential. Dick was strongly committed to community, living in Lexington, Massachusetts since 1953. He held the record as Lexingtons longest continuously serving elected town meeting member | 53 years | and served as vice-chair of Lexingtons Appropriation Committee from 1958-64. He was active at Hancock United Church of Christ | as Sunday School Superintendent and also as President of the Hancock Mens Club. He was particularly proud of his 9-year service as President of the Board of Project IMPACT, a Massachusetts non-profit special needs adoption agency. Dick is predeceased by his dear wife Margery Milne Battin. Married nearly 65 years, Marge and Dick loved world travel and passed along this passion to their children and grandchildren. Dick dearly treasured being surrounded by family | son, Tom Battin and his wife Daryl of Lexington; daughter, Pamela Battin-Sacks and her husband Steven Sacks of Portsmouth NH; and son, Jeff Battin and his wife Linda of Castle Rock CO. He was always extremely proud of his children and their families and was a loving grandfather of Matthew Battin of Chicago IL, Beth Battin of Somerville MA, Rachel Sacks of Boston MA, and Kelly and Chris Battin of Castle Rock CO. A memorial service is being planned for late March at Hancock United Church of Christ in Lexington, MA. In lieu of flowers, please send donations in Dicks memory to Hancock UCC, 1912 Massachusetts Ave., Lexington, MA 02421. Arrangements are under the care of the Dee Funeral Home of Concord. To share a remembrance in Dicks guest book visit

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Published in The Lexington Minuteman from Feb. 11 to Feb. 18, 2014.
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Memories & Condolences
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9 entries
July 1, 2015
Saddened by the news of the loss of a genius who came up with techniques that helped mankind guide its way to the moon and beyond. You will be sadly and deeply missed in Aerospace community. RIP Richard Battin.
June 10, 2014
Mi sentido homenaje a un hombre esencial para la civilización
Miguel Angel Perez Alvarez
May 1, 2014
Saddened by the passing away of legendary of Guidance Navigation and Control. RIP Dr. Battin, we will carry forward your legacy.-
Vinod Kumar
March 12, 2014
Dr. Battin was my beloved professor at MIT and I am proud to have him in my PhD committee. I will continue to have a fond memory of him as a great teacher and mentor. His approach to Astrodynamics is unique and inspirational, as was the man himself.
Tiauw Go
February 15, 2014
Still a faithful follower in 2012
Dick Battin was a mentor and good friend to all of us who worked on GN&C at the Lab. What a thrill to see him at MIT's celebration in 2009, still teaching.
February 14, 2014
I read with profound sadness today of the passing of Professor Battin. As one of his many ex-students here at NASA / Jet Propulsion Laboratory, I know that he will be greatly missed by many across this country and around the world. It is with great fondness that I will remember him, his lectures, his Apollo stories and his love of Gauss. My greatest sympathies to the Battin family. Very respectfully, Michael G. Wilson (SM '87).
Michael Wilson
February 11, 2014
Sympathies from one of your many appreciative students. Hope you are catching up with Euler, Gauss, and other noteds that you brought to life for us.
Al Cangahuala
February 10, 2014
RIP Dick Battin
A great man in the GNC and Astrodynamics communities.
Craig McLaughlin
February 10, 2014
Dr. Battin was an inspiration to all of us who dedicated our lives to the manned space program, starting out as students in the 1970s.
Michael Hough
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