of Space Physicist Dr. David Leroy Talent
David Leroy Talent, Ph.D. was born April 1, 1952 in Springfield,
Missouri. He was the first child of Kenneth Eugene and Ruth
Pauline (Larson) Talent. He had three younger siblings.
was a brilliant Space Physicist, considered by many as the father
of Space Debris Science. He received his Bachelor of Science
Magna Cumm Laude in 1974 from Missouri State University; his
Master of Science in Physics in 1979 followed by his Ph.D. in
1981, both from Rice University in Houston, Texas. His 2-year
post-doc was executed at the Yerkes Observatory of the University
of Chicago. For those two years he held the position of William
Gaertner Fellow in Astronomy. Over the 35 year period that followed,
David worked for companies large and small: Lockheed; Boeing;
Oceanit Laboratories, Inc.; and ARES Corporation. In addition,
he worked as a scientific consultant on one movie script, several
books and television productions. He held a SECRET level US
security clearance for 24 consecutive years. He has over 50
scientific publications in respected scientific journals. He
holds one US Patent for a computer model that may be used to
project the growth of the orbital debris population and resulting
increase in collisional risk to valuable space assets. He was
a proficient programmer in FORTRAN, BASIC, FORTH, C++, and JAVA.
served, full-time, on the faculties of Abilene Christian University
and Texas A&M University, Galveston, teaching Astronomy,
E&M, Optics, Modern Physics, Statistical and Thermal Physics,
College Physics, University Physics, Astronomical Imaging Techniques,
Optical Spectral Analysis, Advanced Mathematical Methods for
Scientists and Engineers, Statics and Dynamics for Engineers,
Shipboard Automation and Control, Shipboard Power Systems, Algebra,
Trig, and Calculus.
addition, he taught as an Adjunct faculty member at Gateway
Technical Institute in Wisconsin, San Jacinto Main Campus in
Houston Texas, San Jacinto- South Campus in Houston, Texas,
Rice University in Houston, Texas, University of Houston --
Central Campus, UH-Clear Lake Campus, College of the Mainland
near Houston, Texas, and Baylor.
in Abilene, he wrote a weekly newspaper column on Astronomy
for the Abilene Reporter News and hosted a weekly "Science
in Our Community" spot on KRBC-TV.
was a fully qualified and FAA licensed private pilot for single-engine,
fixed gear, VFR.
has been honored by NASA/JPL, and Asteroid 33154 (Talent) was
so named in his honor for work performed at the Maui Space Surveillance
facility on Haleakala on a joint effort for the USAF, NASA,
and the NRO.
one occasion, while working for Lockheed-Martin at NASA-JSC
in the 1990s, David personally stood up during a high level
emergency meeting at JSC and advised NASA NOT to launch a Space
Shuttle mission as scheduled but, rather, to hold off a week
due to extreme uncertainty in the activity level of the Perseid
Meteor Shower for that year. He was later told that his input
had been pivotal in the decision by David Leetsma (astronaut)
in choosing to postpone the launch. He may well have saved both
the vehicle and the lives of the crew.
yet another occasion, David volunteered to travel alone to a
location in Mexico to obtain photograph data for NASA of the
reentry of the SEDS-II end mass package after NASA's official
request to set up a radar station was denied by the Mexican
government. His "secret mission" was also executed
without the prior knowledge or consent of the U.S. State Department.
His mission was a success; he got the data.
was preceded in death by his father. His mother died less than
12 hours after the recorded death time of her first child, David
Leroy Talent. He is survived by two sons Aaron Talent of Friendswood,
Texas and Byron Talent of Alvin, Texas; one brother Steven Talent
of Mesa, Arizona; two sisters Rebecca Talent Archer of Ash Grove,
Missouri and Katherine Talent Loffler of Galena, Missouri and
per Davids wishes, his remains were cremated and will
be buried with his parents in Springfield, Missouri at the Greenlawn
South Cemetery, in section H.
of NASA Scientist and Astronaut Piers Sellers