The Harold W. Ritchey Distinguished Lecture Series in Space Engineering has been established in the college of engineering at Utah State University.
The lecture series was established by Mr. and Mrs. R. Gilbert Moore.Harold W. Ritchey, Ogden, is retired chairman and chief executive officer of Thiokol. A pioneer in the solid propellant rocket industry, he was responsible for Thiokol's locating in northern Utah.
Moore worked for Ritchey for many years at Thiokol and is now a principal in Globesat, a spacecraft company in North Logan. He is also a senior research associate in the USU Department of Physics.
"We wanted to recognize the major contributions to rocketry that Dr. Ritchey has made in his career," said Moore. "He was research director of Thiokol when the company started developing solid rocket fuel. He discovered how to program solid rocket thrust by varying internal geometry and how to scale rocket motors, from the 5-inch diameter Falcon to the 5-foot diameter Minuteman, up to the 12-foot diameter space shuttle booster. These were decisive developments in the rocketry field. I'd call them seminal events."
Ritchey selected the site near Brigham City because of the isolation and low land costs and because he liked the emphasis on education and the work ethic he found in Utah, according to Moore.
By the time Thiokol received a contract to build its first rocket motor in Utah, the company had invested more than 60 percent of its stockholder's equity in the new plant.
As research vice president, Ritchey managed several Thiokol divisions from his Ogden headquarters. He guided solid propulsion research, development and production for such programs as the Falcon, Hermes II and Minuteman. He left Ogden for the east coast when he was named Thiokol's president in 1964. He became chairman and chief executive officer in 1970.
Thiokol bid on the space shuttle booster motor after building and testing a 156-inch diameter motor. Ritchey told NASA he would move to Utah and oversee the project if Thiokol landed the bid.
"It was a crucial point in our getting the space shuttle bid that the CEO would move to Utah and stay close to the project," Moore said.
Ritchey retired from Thiokol in 1977 and has since served on a number of corporate boards and public commissions including the state of Utah Advisory Council on Science and Technology. He currently supports USU with one of the leading scholarships in the College of Engineering.
The annual lecture series will be administered by the USU College of Engineering.