Rex W. Ridenoure
Class of 1974
Hall of Honor 2011
Rex W. Ridenoure graduated from Grand Island High School as an excellent student, champion gymnast and experienced debater. He earned his undergraduate degree at Iowa State University (Ames), with honors in Aerospace Engineering, where he was also a four-year letterman on its nationally-ranked gymnastics team. In 1976, Ridenoure experienced his first space-project during the Viking landings on Mars, as a student intern at the Caltech/NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). After ISU, he moved to Southern California to work at leading satellite supplier Hughes Space & Communications, which also sponsored his graduate degree in Aeronautics from Caltech, completed in 1979.
Ridenoure has made meaningful contributions to over 100 commercial, NASA and defense-related space missions and launches while working for various commercial space companies, JPL, and in academia. He has been a front-line contributor to, and participant in, a diverse set of space-project firsts and pathfinding trends such as: Space Shuttle-launched satellites, solar system exploration, in-orbit spacecraft servicing and salvage, low cost space experiments, low cost lunar and asteroid missions, commercial astronaut development, technology demonstration missions, commercial lunar missions, new commercial suborbital tourism and research vehicles, commercial habitable modules and space-themed public outreach concepts.
He has participated on several notable pioneering mission efforts including the Hubble Space Telescope, the Voyager-2 encounter with Neptune, Deep Space 1 ion-propulsion mission, the first commercial lunar mission (HGS-1), SpaceShipOne suborbital vehicle, the LCROSS lunar impactor mission, and twin GRAIL lunar orbiters.
In 2001, Ridenoure co-founded Ecliptic Enterprises Corporation, serving as CEO for over 10 years. With its RocketCam™ product family, Ecliptic quickly became a leading supplier of onboard video systems for use with rockets and spacecraft. RocketCam views from numerous Space Shuttle launches and other space missions have become iconic views from space for many of the world’s people.
Throughout his career, Ridenoure has earned several major space industry awards. He is currently focused on contributing to the formulation of the next phase of U.S. space activity in the post-Shuttle era. His work includes supporting further commercialization of space-mission operations; the utilization of the infinite resources in space to address pressing issues here on Earth; and to enable the long term, sustainable expansion of human civilization into the solar system.
Rex, his wife Ning, and their two children Lance and Kai, live in Pasadena, California.