John Herbert Chapman Astronomy, Astrophysics and Space Science

Builder of the Canadian space program

The Story

From 1949 to 1968 Chapman was scientist, superintendent and deputy chief superintendent in the Defense Research Telecommunications Establishment in Ottawa and then assistant deputy minister for research in the federal Department of Communications. From 1958 to 1971 Chapman played a key role in initiating and directing the successful Alouette/IS scientific Earth satellite program. In 1966 he was appointed chairman of a government study group to examine the upper atmosphere and space programs in Canada. The resulting report was a landmark contribution to space policies and plans in Canada and led to the redirection of Canada’s space program from scientific to applications satellites. Chapman was also the prime mover behind Canada’s co-operative program with NASA and the European Space Agency to design, build and demonstrate the Hermes Communications Technology Satellite which would provide Canadians in remote areas with direct-to-home television by satellite.

In 1996, the headquarters of the Canadian Space Agency was renamed the John H. Chapman Space Centre to commemorate Dr. Chapman's accomplishments in the space industry.

Sources: Canadian Space Agency; Excerpt, Proceedings Royal Society of Canada; Canadian Encyclopedia, 2000 ed.; Photo: Royal Society of Canada.

Career ideas:

  • research scientist, physics
  • research scientist, electronics
  • research scientist, communications
  • research scientist, aerospace
  • research scientist, remote sensing
  • nuclear physicist
  • optics physicist
  • plasma physicist
  • solid state physicist
  • astrophysicist
  • cosmologist
  • experimental physicist

The Person

August 28, 1921
London, Ontario
Date of Death
September 28, 1979
Place of Death
Vancouver, BC
Family Members
  • Father: Lt. Col. Lloyd P. Chapman
  • Mother: Kathleen Saunders Chapman
  • Wife: Marian (Holmes) Chapman
Physicist; Space scientist; Administrator
  • MSc McGill University
  • PhD McGill University
  • McCurdy award (Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute), 1967
  • Charles Chree Medal and Prize, 1967
  • Dellinger Gold Medal (International Union of Radio Scientists), 1966
  • Engineering Medal (Association of Professional Engineers of Ontario), 1966
  • Fellow, Royal Society of Canada, 1966
  • McNaughton Award (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) - posthumously, 1979
  • Several honorary doctorates
Last Updated
April 8, 2015

Profile viewed 56203 times

Other scientists who may be of interest: