Canadian Space Pioneer Dr. Philip Lapp Passes Away

Dr. Philip Lapp one of Canada’s earliest and influential space pioneers has passed away at the age of 85 after a long illness.

The Canadian Space Agency issued a statement where they said “The Canadian Space Agency wishes to extend our sincere condolences to Mrs. Colleen Lapp and the family of Canadian space pioneer Dr. Philip Lapp who dedicated his life to space and aerospace innovation, ingenuity, and excellence. He passed away on September 25th in Toronto at 85 after a long illness.
Dr. Lapp was the co-author of the “Chapman Report”, which launched Canada’s Space Policy in 1967. While John H. Chapman is deemed the Father of the Canadian Space Program, Dr. Lapp is considered as one of its main architects and was instrumental in launching Canada in space over half a century ago.

Dr. Kieran Carroll reached out to SpaceRef to express his thoughts on Dr. Lapp’s passing and his contributions to Canada’s space program.
After getting his B.A.Sc. from U of T in 1950 (in Engineering Physics, the same program I went through), he went on to MIT, earning his doctorate with a thesis on the topic of ICBM guidance and control (which, amusingly, the US government classified Secret as soon as he wrote it, which kept him, as a Canadian, from being able to keep a copy!).
I first ran across his name during the early days of the Canadian Space Society (around 1983), when I found a copy of an old newsletter in the UTIAS Aerospace Library, from the “Canadian Astronautical Society” circa 1961, listing Philip A. Lapp as its President. This was a group of guys at DHC (DeHavilland Aircraft of Canada) who were working on developing a sounding rocket, in a mode that had its echoes in several CSS design projects 25 years later. Shortly after that, Phil engineered a merger between the CAS and the Canadian Aeronautical Institute (also the Montreal-based Astronautical Society of Canada). Phil would proudly state that “he was the one who put the “S” in CASI.
The SPAR group was Canada’s leading space mechanical engineering group, in the earliest days of the Canadian space program. They developed the STEM tube concept into
a workable product, which they sold into many US space programs, including Mercury, Gemini and Apollo. They were the developers of the structure for the early Alouette

A group of DHC insiders bought the SPAR group from DHC in 1967, with Larry Clarke as the lead business guy, and Phil as the lead engineering guy. The SPAR story I’m sure you know from there… Phil moved from engineering management to the SPAR Board of Directors after a few years, and stayed as a Director for many years. Also became a Director at MDA in its early days, and stayed on for many years.
Dr. Lapp’s impressive list of space achievements also includes:
– helping to build Canada’s first satellite Alouette
– working on the early NASA capsules
– leading the mechanical-engineering division on the famed Avro Arrow project
– co-founding SPAR Aerospace, which built the first Canadarm
– contributing to getting Canada’s RADARSAT program off the ground
– contributing to the antennas for NASA’s Mercury, Gemini and Apollo space capsule
– establishing the Canadian Astronautical Society, the predecessor to the Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute
– volunteering his time as a member of the board of the Canadian Air and Space museum in Toronto until he became ill
Dr. Lapp earned his Bachelor of Applied Science at the University of Toronto, and his Masters and Doctorate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has served on numerous committees in many associations in his field, including terms as the President of the Association of Professional Engineers of Ontario and the Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute, and Chairman of the NRC Advisory Board on Scientific and Technological Information. Dr. Lapp was President of Philip A. Lapp Limited, consulting engineers and scientists. He is an Honorary Member of the Engineering Institute of Canada and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. He was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1995.
Dr. Philip Lapp at Apogee Books
York University biography

About Marc Boucher

Boucher is an entrepreneur, writer, editor & publisher. He is the founder of SpaceQ Media Inc. and CEO and co-founder of SpaceRef Interactive LLC. Boucher has 20+ years working in various roles in the space industry and a total of 30 years as a technology entrepreneur including creating Maple Square, Canada's first internet directory and search engine.

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