Hibbs, Albert R., 1924-2003

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Hibbs was Chief of the Division of Space Sciences.

From the description of Division of Space Sciences - Division 32 Program Structure, 1960 Sep. (Jet Propulsion Laboratory Library and Archives). WorldCat record id: 733096844

From the description of Proposed budget for a lunar seismograph system, FY 1962, NASA-Lamont Geological Observatory : letter to Charles Sonett, NASA Chief of Lunar and Planetary Sciences, 1961 May 10. (Jet Propulsion Laboratory Library and Archives). WorldCat record id: 733096940

From the description of Proposed budget for a lunar seismograph system, FY 1962, NASA-Caltech : letter to Charles Sonett, NASA Chief of Lunar and Planetary Sciences, 1961 May 10. (Jet Propulsion Laboratory Library and Archives). WorldCat record id: 733096938

Hibbs was Chief of the Arms Control Study Group, JPL.

From the description of Role as an Experimenter on the Ranger Lunar Photographic Experiment : letter to Homer E. Newell, Director, Office of Space Sciences, NASA, 1963 Apr 11. (Jet Propulsion Laboratory Library and Archives). WorldCat record id: 733099466

Hibbs was Chief of the Division of the Space Sciences.

From the description of Dissemination of photographic data to the public and other scientists : letter to Homer E. Newell, NASA Director of the Office of Space Sciences, 1962 Jan 4. (Jet Propulsion Laboratory Library and Archives). WorldCat record id: 733100757

From the description of Memo summarizing discussions held 1961 Dec 9 regarding the Ranger TV mission : letter to Eugene M. Shoemaker, 1962 Jan 4. (Jet Propulsion Laboratory Library and Archives). WorldCat record id: 733097153

From the description of Dissemination of Ranger 3 Photographs : memo to Experimenters for the Ranger TV Mission, 1962 Jan 4. (Jet Propulsion Laboratory Library and Archives). WorldCat record id: 733097154

Albert Roach Hibbs (1924-2003) was born in Akron, Ohio on 19 October 1924. Raised nearby in Chillicothe, Ohio, Al was the second child of Albert Samuel Hibbs, manager of the Chillicothe Water Department, and Alberta Roach Hibbs, a chemist, and brother to older sister, Agnes, born two years earlier in 1922.

Al Hibbs moved to southern California in 1942 to attend the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) as an undergraduate student under the Navy's V-12 program, where he met his lifelong friend and collaborator, Roy L. Walford, later a Professor of Pathology at UCLA School of Medicine and a crew member of Biosphere 2. Hibbs earned his Bachelor of Science in Physics from Caltech in 1945 and after a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy following World War II, was awarded a Master of Science in Mathematics from the University of Chicago in 1947. Prior to returning to California in 1950, he and Walford spent over a year traveling the Caribbean aboard a 40-foot sailboat, Adonde, after earning the money to support the trip by exploiting the mechanical quirks of roulette wheels to beat the odds in Reno in 1947 and in Las Vegas in 1948. In 1950 Hibbs began work as a research engineer in the Research and Analysis Section at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), then a rocket research laboratory operated by Caltech for the U.S. Army and transferred to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) later that year. The following year he returned to Caltech in pursuit of a Ph.D. in Physics, which he was awarded in 1955. As a doctoral student, his advisor was Nobel physicist Richard Feynman; the two became close friends and collaborators, coauthoring the textbook Quantum Mechanics and Path Integrals, published in 1965.

Hibbs' theoretical work at JPL laid the foundation for the successful launching of the country's first satellites and lunar probes. As the head of the Research and Analysis Section, he was the systems designer for the first successful U.S. satellite, Explorer 1, in 1958. He helped create and served as Chief of the Space Sciences Division from 1960 to 1962, designing instruments and carrying out scientific studies on the Moon and planets. He held several other research and managerial positions during his tenure at JPL, including Senior Staff Scientist of the Office of Plans and Programs (1967-1969), assigned to long-range planning of Laboratory activities; Manager of Transportation Technology Office (1969-1970), responsible for directing the application of space technology to the solution of problems in transportation; Manager of Program Planning and Coordination (1976-1980), establishing new space development programs and projects; Manager of Strategic Planning, developing concepts for future space activities; and Manager of Space Science and Applications Program, involving research in Earth and space sciences, instrument development, and preliminary design studies of future space flights. He retired from JPL as the Director of Space Science in November 1986.

Hibbs left JPL from 1962 to 1967 on special assignment as staff scientist for the Arms Control Study Group (ACSG) of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) to study how arms-control treaties could be monitored from space.

Working independently, with Caltech, JPL, and NASA, and with local and national broadcasting outlets, Hibbs hosted and produced a number of radio and television programs for both adults and children during his career. Hibbs emerged as the "Voice of JPL" and became the spokesperson for the unmanned spacecraft missions during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. With an aptitude for making difficult science understandable, he chronicled for the world, via television and radio, the Ranger and Surveyor missions to the Moon; the Mariner missions to Venus, Mars, and Mercury; the Viking missions to Mars; and the Voyager missions to the outer planets. He received numerous awards and honors for his television and radio work, including the George Foster Peabody Broadcasting Award in 1963 for hosting the NBC weekly children's television program "Exploring" which ran from 1962 to 1966. Additionally, he received the Thomas Alva Edison Foundation National Media Award for "Exploring" in 1962 and 1965, and for his work on "World of Science" as the best science radio program for youth in 1965. In 1984 he was awarded the NASA Exceptional Service Medal, "especially for his outstanding achievements in explaining the complexities and significance of space exploration to the general public via radio and television."

Hibbs maintained close ties to Caltech throughout his career and into retirement. From 1965 to 1974 he taught courses at Caltech in physics, government, national security, and transportation issues. He performed with Men's Glee Club and in several theatrical productions with Theater Arts at California Institute of Technology (TACIT) during the 1980s and 1990s. In retirement, he was on the Board of Directors for both the Caltech Y and the Volunteer Professionals for Medical Advancement (VPMA), a group of retired JPL engineers and scientists working with local doctors and hospitals to develop new medical technologies.

He was active in a number of projects outside of JPL, including Biosphere 2 as a member of the Project Review Committee from 1987 to 1992 and the Geosphere Project as a member of the Eyes on Earth Board of Directors from 1989 to 1995. He was also involved in the development of the Morgantown Area Rapid Transit System (MARTS), funded by the Urban Mass Transportation Administration (UMTA), which he continued work on after JPL abandoned the system management role.

Hibbs authored numerous articles on diverse subjects in a variety of publications, both popular and technical. In addition to published works, he composed poetry, stories, and script ideas that never reached publication. He also gave speeches on a variety of subjects to diverse audiences ranging from professional organizations to neighborhood churches.

As a hobby he enjoyed making kinetic sculpture. He was also a member of the Southern California Skeptics, a group affiliated with the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP) that aimed to promote and disseminate the fair and accurate investigation of alleged claims of paranormal occurrences.

He married Florence Pavin in 1950; they had two children, Victoria Pavin Hibbs (b. 1954) and Bart Dean Hibbs (b. 1955). Widowed in 1970, Hibbs remarried Marka Oliver in 1971; she had two children from a previous marriage, Alicia Cortrite and Lawrence (Larry) Wilson. Hibbs died on 24 February 2003 of complications following heart surgery at Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena, California at the age of 78.

From the description of Papers of Albert R. Hibbs, 1884-2009. (Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens). WorldCat record id: 781315293

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Pickering, William H., 1910-2004. William H. Pickering Speech Collection, 1955-1975. Jet Propulsion Laboratory Library and Archives
referencedIn DOCTOR ALBERT HIBBS, OF THE JET PROPULSION LABORATORY, ON SURVEYOR 3'S EXPLORATION AFTER LANDING ON THE MOON United States. National Archives and Records Administration
creatorOf Hibbs, Albert R., 1924-2003. Dissemination of photographic data to the public and other scientists : letter to Homer E. Newell, NASA Director of the Office of Space Sciences, 1962 Jan 4. Jet Propulsion Laboratory Library and Archives
creatorOf Hibbs, Albert R., 1924-2003. Memo summarizing discussions held 1961 Dec 9 regarding the Ranger TV mission : letter to Eugene M. Shoemaker, 1962 Jan 4. Jet Propulsion Laboratory Library and Archives
referencedIn Richter, Henry L., Jr.,. Interview with Henry L. Richter, Jr. / by Russell Castonguay. Jet Propulsion Laboratory Library and Archives
creatorOf Smithsonian Videohistory Program. Twenty fifth anniversary of Mariner 2 interviews [videorecording] / 1987. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
creatorOf Hibbs, Albert R., 1924-2003. Data Summary Sheets for Explorer 3, 1958. Jet Propulsion Laboratory Library and Archives
creatorOf Pickering, William H., 1910-2004. Minutes of briefing on the occasion of the visit of Robert Kerr and James E. Webb : report, 1961 Oct 3. Jet Propulsion Laboratory Library and Archives
creatorOf Pickering, William H., 1910-2004. William H. Pickering Office File Collection, 1955-1976. Jet Propulsion Laboratory Library and Archives
creatorOf Hibbs, Albert R., 1924-2003. Ranger 3, 4, 5 Radar Data : memo to James D. Burke, Ranger Project Manager, 1961 Apr 10. Jet Propulsion Laboratory Library and Archives
creatorOf Hibbs, Albert R., 1924-2003. Division of Space Sciences - Division 32 Program Structure, 1960 Sep. Jet Propulsion Laboratory Library and Archives
creatorOf Colella, Frank J., 1921-. JPL Public Affairs Office Collection, 1969-1983. Jet Propulsion Laboratory Library and Archives
creatorOf Burke, James D., 1925-. JPL industry conference : proceedings, 1960 Oct 26. Jet Propulsion Laboratory Library and Archives
creatorOf Burke, James D., 1925-. History Office Collection, Ranger / Mariner/Surveyor. Jet Propulsion Laboratory Library and Archives
creatorOf Hibbs, Albert R., 1924-2003. Ranger Follow-On Design Modifications : memo to D.H. Kindt, 1961 Nov 15. Jet Propulsion Laboratory Library and Archives
creatorOf Hibbs, Albert R., 1924-2003. Role as an Experimenter on the Ranger Lunar Photographic Experiment : letter to Homer E. Newell, Director, Office of Space Sciences, NASA, 1963 Apr 11. Jet Propulsion Laboratory Library and Archives
creatorOf Hibbs, Albert R., 1924-2003. Dissemination of Ranger 3 Photographs : memo to Experimenters for the Ranger TV Mission, 1962 Jan 4. Jet Propulsion Laboratory Library and Archives
creatorOf Cummings, Clifford I., 1923-2006. The Ranger Program, 1961. Jet Propulsion Laboratory Library and Archives
creatorOf Hibbs, Albert R., 1924-2003. Proposed budget for a lunar seismograph system, FY 1962, NASA-Lamont Geological Observatory : letter to Charles Sonett, NASA Chief of Lunar and Planetary Sciences, 1961 May 10. Jet Propulsion Laboratory Library and Archives
creatorOf Colella, Frank J., 1921-. Executive Council Memoranda Collection, 1977-1982. Jet Propulsion Laboratory Library and Archives
creatorOf Pickering, William H., 1910-2004. William H. Pickering Speech Reference Collection, 1959-1974. Jet Propulsion Laboratory Library and Archives
creatorOf Parks, Robert J., 1922-. Robert J. Parks Collection, 1945-1966. Jet Propulsion Laboratory Library and Archives
creatorOf Hibbs, Albert R., 1924-2003. Morgantown project origins : memo to distribution, 1970 Dec 17. Jet Propulsion Laboratory Library and Archives
creatorOf Hibbs, Albert R., 1924-2003. Notes on Project Deal : report, 1958 Mar 14. Jet Propulsion Laboratory Library and Archives
creatorOf Albee, Arden L. The Bruce C. Murray and Charles H. Terhune, Jr. Director's Office Papers Collection, 1971-1979. Jet Propulsion Laboratory Library and Archives
creatorOf Hibbs, Albert R., 1924-2003. The National Program for Lunar and Planetary Exploration, 1961 Jan 25. Jet Propulsion Laboratory Library and Archives
creatorOf Hibbs, Albert R., 1924-2003. Proposed budget for a lunar seismograph system, FY 1962, NASA-Caltech : letter to Charles Sonett, NASA Chief of Lunar and Planetary Sciences, 1961 May 10. Jet Propulsion Laboratory Library and Archives
creatorOf Hibbs, Albert R. Papers of Albert R. Hibbs, 1884-2009. Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens
referencedIn Noriyuki, Duane,. Rocket Boys Still Pushing the Envelope, 2001 Jan 24. Jet Propulsion Laboratory Library and Archives
creatorOf Sparks, Brian O., 1911-1983. JPL-Industry Conference : proceedings, 1960 Nov 18. Jet Propulsion Laboratory Library and Archives
referencedIn National Air and Space Museum. Dept. of Space History. The Space Astronomy Oral History Project, 1981-1986. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
creatorOf Hibbs, Albert R., 1924-2003. A new look at the Moon, 1960 June. Jet Propulsion Laboratory Library and Archives
creatorOf Hibbs, Albert R., 1924-2003. Development of the high-speed stages for the re-entry test vehicle : Publication No. 68, 1956 Apr 13. Jet Propulsion Laboratory Library and Archives
creatorOf Hibbs, Albert R., 1924-2003,. Exploration of the Moon, the Planets, and Interplanetary Space, 1959 Apr 30. Jet Propulsion Laboratory Library and Archives
creatorOf Hibbs, Albert R., 1924-2003. The Surface of the Moon, 1967 Mar. Jet Propulsion Laboratory Library and Archives
Role Title Holding Repository
Direct Relationships
Relation Name
associatedWith California Institute of Technology. corporateBody
associatedWith Colella, Frank J., 1921- person
associatedWith Cummings, Clifford I., 1923-2006. person
associatedWith Department of the Army Ordnance Corps. corporateBody
associatedWith Earthwatch (Organization). corporateBody
associatedWith Feynman, Richard P. (Richard Phillips) 1918-1988. person
associatedWith GeoSphere Project. corporateBody
employeeOf Jet Propulsion Laboratory (U.S.) corporateBody
employeeOf Jet Propulsion Laboratory (U.S.) corporateBody
associatedWith National Air and Space Museum. Dept. of Space History. corporateBody
associatedWith Noriyuki, Duane, person
associatedWith Pickering, William H., 1910-2004. person
associatedWith Richter, Henry L., Jr., person
associatedWith Smithsonian Videohistory Program. corporateBody
associatedWith Sparks, Brian O., 1911-1983. person
associatedWith United States Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. corporateBody
associatedWith United States Army Ballistic Missile Agency. corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Dept. of Transportation. corporateBody
associatedWith United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration. corporateBody
associatedWith Walford, Roy L. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Subject
Space flight to asteroids
Data processing
Transportation networks
Asteroids
Space flight
Solar system
Science--Study and teaching (Higher)
Spacecraft communication
Space flight to Jupiter
Satellite image maps
Space flight to Mars
Test vehicles
payloads
Launch vehicles
Voyager project :
Centaur project
Ranger block 3 television system:
Comets
Explorer 1 (Artificial satellite)
Space flight to Venus
Surveyor Program (U.S.)
Outer space--Exploration
Lunar exploration
Ranger project :
Satellites
Space flight to Mercury
Explorer 3 satellite
Surveyor project :
Spacecraft guidance
Spacecraft design
Science television programs
Mariner program :
telemetry
Lunik lunar probes
Science--Study and teaching (Elementary)
Saturn project
Space industrialization
Explorer 1 (Artificial satellite)--Orbit
Space flight to the moon
Outer space--Civilian use
Space flight to the moon on television
Lunar orbiter
Agena b ranger program
Biosphere 2 (Project)
Lunar surface
Space flight to Saturn
Moon
Astronautical laboratories
Viking Mars Program (U.S.)
Reentry vehicles
space exploration
Ranger 3 lunar probe
Kinetic art
Jupiter c rocket vehicle
Explorer satellites
Spacecraft tracking
Occupation
Mathematicians
Function

Person

Birth 1924-10-19

Death 2003-02-24

Americans

English

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