Development & Alumni Relations Office 

Frederick James Kennedy, (died 13 March, aged 83)

A full obituary, which appeared in the Irish Times on Saturday 18 April, can be found here.

Fred Kennedy, who has died aged 83 at his home in Malahide, Co Dublin, made an important contribution in the complex and challenging world of space exploration.

With his team at the Malahide-based company CAPTEC, he was a leading contractor to the European Space Agency (ESA), for which he carried out numerous assignments over several decades.

The work included the very detailed and complex task of validating the guidance software systems used to direct ESA's spacecraft from their launching pads on Earth to their destinations in outer space.

The most recent example was seen in the success of the Rosetta/Philae mission. When it completed its extraordinary 10-year journey through the solar system, to rendezvous with a comet in that vast expanse far beyond Mars, the world delighted in the achievement and marvelled at the expertise and ingenuity of those who had made it so successful.

Frederick James Kennedy grew up in Bellaghy in south Co Derry and was proud of his Ulster roots. The first person in his family to benefit from third level education, he graduated from Queen's in 1954 with a first class honours degree in physics and mathematics. He went on to work on leading-edge projects, beginning at Shorts in Belfast, where he worked on the development of aerofoil designs for the first vertical take-off and landing aircraft.

He married Anne Marshall in 1957 and they moved to Montreal, where he worked for a time with Canadair on supersonic aircraft design. In early 1960 they moved to Boston, where he joined the aerospace department of Radio Corporation of America (RCA) and worked on the company's proposal for the Lunar Lander subsequently used on NASA’s Apollo missions.

He joined IBM in Burlington, New York, where he was engaged in developing the first computerised reservations system for Aer Lingus, a project that was to bring him back to Ireland and to his new home in Malahide in 1963.

In the wake of Ireland's decision to join the EEC, he became a strong advocate for the country's participation in the newly-formed ESA. Seeing the opportunities it would offer, he decided to establish CAPTEC. Over the next four decades the company would expand into other areas, including medical imaging.

He is survived by his widow, Anne, sons Nicky, Jon and Simon and their families.

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