Memorial Service for Dick Malow on October 3 in Washington, DC

Memorial Service for Dick Malow on October 3 in Washington, DC

A memorial service will be held on October 3, 2016 at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC for Dick Malow, a legendary House Appropriations Committee staff member who had considerable influence on NASA’s programs in the 1980s and 1990s.  He later joined the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) and was a member of the NASA Advisory Council’s Human Exploration and Operations Committee at the time of his death.

Richard N. Malow, 77, was born in Detroit, MI and moved to the Washington area in 1964 to work as a research assistant at the Library of Congress, but he earned his status as one of the most influential congressional staff members in civilian space policy as clerk of the House Appropriations Veterans Affairs-Housing and Urban Development-Independent Agencies (VA-HUD) subcommittee.  NASA was funded under that subcommittee at the time.  The clerk of an appropriations subcommittee is the top staff position. 

Dick Malow in 1992.  Photo credit:  Space News (used with permission)

Malow was in that position during tumultuous years at NASA as the agency responded to President Ronald Reagan’s 1984 directive to build a space station within a decade, recovered from the 1986 space shuttle Challenger tragedy, launched the then-defective Hubble Space Telescope in 1990, and dealt with the constrained budgets of the time. His influence was felt in virtually all of NASA’s programs, human and robotic, but particularly the space station program which underwent many changes as costs grew.  (NASA spent approximately $11 billion on the Space Station Freedom program in its first 9 years without building any flight hardware; the program was completely restructured in 1993 and became known simply as the International Space Station).   Malow fiercely protected the space station’s science capabilities as NASA repeatedly downsized the program.  As Andrew Lawler wrote in the November 2-8, 1992 edition of Space News,  “When the first components of NASA’s international space station are orbited, they
could easily bear the inscription ‘Designed by Richard Malow.'”

Malow left the congressional staff in 1994 to join AURA, which operates ground- and space-based telescopes including several in Chile and Hubble (through the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, MD).  He was AURA’s Head of Mission in Chile for many years.

He died on June 2 after a lengthy illness and was buried in Michigan.

The memorial service will be held in the Member’s Room on the first floor of the Jefferson Building (the main building) of the Library of Congress on Capitol Hill at 2:00 pm ET.

Editor’s Note:  I worked closely with Dick when he was on the committee staff and I was at the Congressional Research Service.   He truly was one of a kind.  His passing is a great loss for the space policy community.


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