|Dr. Philip Lapp; 1928 - 2013. Photo c/o Canadian Air & Space Museum.
by Sarah Manea
One of the originators of our modern Canadian space industry has passed away after a long illness, on September 25th, in Toronto.
|The first Canadarm, deployed as part of the STS-2 space shuttle mission in November 1981. Photo c/o Wikipedia.
Dr. Philip A. Lapp certainly accomplished a lot more than he is credited for, but he is best known for co-founding SPAR Aerospace, the firm responsible for the design and manufacture of the very first Canadarm.
He gave his nation the push necessary to expand the field of space sciences, and helped create new opportunities, and challenges for Canadian scientists and engineers. His active participation as leader of the Alouette team that built the first Canadian satellite helped us become the third nation in space, after the USSR and the United States.
|Allouette 1.Photo c/o Defence Research and Development Canada.
Dr. Lapp was also one of four co-authors of a document entitled “Upper Atmosphere and Space Programs in Canada.” The document, written in 1967 and now known simply as the “Chapman Report,” recommended using Canadian satellite and space technology for commercial activities such as communications and resource management instead of focusing only on scientific research. Over time, the report became Canada’s original blueprint for space activities and remains an important reference document to this day.
|The complete Chapman Report is available online here.
His guidance and expertise helped “launch Canada into space,” but even scientists and engineers working in the field were sometimes not fully aware of his great contributions.
On top of everything else, he worked towards the establishment of what was then called the Canadian Astronautical Society and is known today as the Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute (CASI). When he had time to spare, Phil Lapp would contribute his time and expertise as a board member for the Canadian Air and Space Museum, in Toronto. "His hand was in so many of these different things that we now attribute to our Canadian air and space program," said Robert Godwin, the museum’s space curator.
Lapp’s work was not exclusive to Canada, and his intelligence has been demonstrated on American aerospace technology. He did not receive the necessary acknowledgment for his work on NASA’s early capsules, whereby he played an important role in the manufacturing and testing of antennae for the Apollo, Gemini, and Mercury capsules.
|The CF-105 Avrow Arrow replica built by the Canadian Air & Space Museum in 2006. As outlined in the September 21st, 2013 CTV article "Plans underway to move historic Avrow Arrow replica for public show," the model is being relocated to the International Centre in Mississauga, ON. where it will be on public display during the Canadian Manufacturing & Technology Show , from September 30th to October 4th. Photo c/o Canadian Air & Space Museum.
His professional life was outstanding, and his family, friends, and acquaintances describe Dr. Lapp as a kind and approachable man. "But he had a common touch... He got along with everyone, “said his wife, during a recent interview.
Sarah Manea is an aspiring astrophysicist, currently completing a specialist in physics and astronomy at the University of Toronto.