National Space Society Governor Robert Jastrow Biography

Robert Jastrow Biography

Robert Jastrow


Former Member of the National Space Society Board of Governors

Robert Jastrow was Director and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Mount Wilson Institute, which manages Mount Wilson Observatory in California on behalf of the Carnegie Institution of Washington. Dr. Jastrow was a member of the NASA Alumni Association.

Dr. Jastrow received his A.B., M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in theoretical physics from Columbia University. He joined NASA when it was formed in 1958 and was a prominent figure in the American space program from its inception. Dr. Jastrow was the first chairman of NASA’s Lunar Exploration Committee, which established the scientific goals for the exploration of the Moon during the Apollo lunar landings. In 1961, Dr. Jastrow set up NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, a U.S. Government laboratory charged with carrying out research in astronomy and planetary science. He served as director of the Goddard Institute until his retirement from NASA in 1981.

In recognition of his work in NASA, Dr. Jastrow received the NASA Medal for Exceptional Scientific Achievement and the Arthur S. Fleming Award for Outstanding Service in the U.S. Government. He also received the Columbia University Medal of Excellence, the Columbia Graduate Facilities Award to Distinguished Alumni and Doctor of Science degree (honorary) from Manhattan College.

Dr. Jastrow hosted more than 100 CBS-TV network programs on space science. He was the special guest of NBC-TV with Wernher von Braun for the Apollo-Soyuz flights, and he was the featured guest of the Today show on the 10th anniversary of the landing on the Moon. Dr. Jastrow’s articles on astronomy and space have appeared in The New York TimesReader’s DigestForeign AffairsCommentaryAtlantic Monthly, and Scientific American.

In 1981, Dr. Jastrow left NASA to join the facility of Dartmouth College as Professor of Earth Sciences. He resigned from Dartmouth in 1992 to take up duties as manager of Mount Wilson Observatory.

On February 8, 2008, Dr. Jastrow died of pneumonia.