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Tsien Hsue-Shen Dies

November 2, 2009

Tsien Hsue-Shen, PhD '39, a Caltech alumnus and one of the founders of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, died on October 31. He was 98.

Tsien worked for the U.S. military on advanced rocket projects and had been commended by the U.S. Air Force for his contributions to its technological development after World War II. But in 1950, the Chinese-born scientist was accused of harboring Communist sympathies and stripped of his security clearance.

No evidence was produced to substantiate the allegations, and Tsien and his colleagues in academia, government, and industry protested that they were nonsense. Nonetheless, the INS placed him under a delayed deportation order, and for the next five years he and his family lived under U.S. government surveillance and partial house arrest.

In September 1955 they were permitted to leave for China, where Tsien resumed his research, founded the Institute of Mechanics, and went on to become the father of China's missile program, a trusted member of the government and Party's inner circle, and the nation's most honored scientist.

Read more about Tsien in his Los Angeles Times obituary and in an article in Caltech News.

 



 


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