Obituary of Richard Charters
Richard E. Charters graduated in June 1961 from the University of South Carolina with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering. He accepted a job with NASA at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas and had initial assignments in mission planning and analysis spanning the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs. While with NASA, Mr. Charters earned a M.S. in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Houston.
Mr. Charters left NASA in 1965 and spent two years in Columbus, Ohio working for North American Aviation. While in Columbus he completed the majority of PhD Course work in mechanical engineering at Ohio State University. In 1967, Mr. Charters again moved to Houston to join TRW Systems Group where he performed a wide variety of onboard guidance analysis tasks in support of Apollo lunar rendezvous maneuvers and Skylab mission planning. When with TRW in Houston, Mr. Charters headed the Guidance Analysis Section while completing his PhD in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Houston. Dr. Richard Charters was awarded his doctorate in May 1972 with a dissertation entitled, “On the Development of Advanced Guidance Concepts for Interplanetary Missions.”
In August 1975, Dr. Charters accepted a position with the Central Intelligence Agency in the Office of Weapons Intelligence, later to become the Office of Scientific and Weapons Research (OSWR) in the Directorate of Intelligence. While in OSWR, he was the Chief Analyst for the Offensive Systems Division and served as the directorate-wide focal point for a wide range of national intelligence and policy support activities concerning foreign ballistic missiles. During this time period, he was uniquely responsible for assessing through all source intelligence analysis the current and future accuracy capabilities of all foreign intercontinental ballistic missiles. During this internationally stressful cold war period, Dr. Charters briefed the methodology and strategic implications of his ICMB accuracy assessments to many cabinet-level officials, members of Congress and high ranking military personnel. He substantially interfaced and participated annually with other U.S. government agencies in formulating and negotiating National Intelligence Estimates for CIA.
In October 1981, Richard married the lovely and wonderful Kathleen Sweet in a fairytale wedding complete with horse and carriage held at the Fort Meyer chapel and Officer’s Club.
In 1985, Dr. Charles moved on to new assignments within the Directorate of Science and Technology, Office of Development and Engineering, where he initially served in a variety of spacecraft engineering assignment in the development of nation space reconnaissance systems for the National Reconnaissance Office. From 1989 to 2007, Dr. Charters directed the design, development, analysis, manufacturing, integration, and testing of the Control and Data Subsystems for extremely complex national reconnaissance programs. He led a large joint U.S. Government/contractor/consultant team through all phases of acquisition activities from concept definition through operational activation. Dr. Charters has also served on a contractor/government technical specialist team for launch and activation of multiple major national reconnaissance programs. Through long term study and application to the technical disciplines of Richard’s attitude control responsibilities he is widely acknowledged to be the NRO’s foremost authority on momentum control gyros and star tracker issues.
Kathleen and Richard live in Vienna, Virginia and are looking forward to spending more time at their beach house in Fenwick Island, DE and Satellite Beach, FL.
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