White Sands Missile Range Hall of Fame

Jed Durrenberger
Photo-Optical Engineer
Served 1951 – 1981
Inducted 2004

Jed Durrenberger was born in Greenville, N.J., on September 8, 1916. He received a degree in mechanical engineering from New Mexico State Univesity in 1951. He came to White Sands the same year as a trainee with the Ballistic Research Lab.

Later, as a ballistic camera station chief, Durrenberger was the key person in developing the Loki Firefly instrumentation system. The rocket received its name from a strobe light that flashed when the rocket was in flight. The ballistic cameras operated by Durrenberger could record these flashes, which allowed the computation of precise trajectory data for this very small vehicle.

As Durrenberger moved up in responsibility he made larger impacts at White Sands. He assisted in the development and design of the BC-4, a very precise ballistic camera system used at White Sands and elsewhere.   He became chief of a section of 60 employees charged with using optical instruments such as ultra-high speed cameras to obtain performance data on missiles launched at White Sands.

In 1957 the Smithsonian Institute gathered people like Durrenberger from various agencies to help design instrumentation to obtain data on satellites. The Soviets launched Sputnik in October 1957. Durrenberger assisted in developing and manufacturing the Baker Nunn Satellite Tracking Cameras that were placed around the world to track Sputnik and follow-on satellites.

In 1972, Durrenberger was honored by the Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE) with the Robert Goddard Memorial Award for his work in photographic tracking of missiles.

Durrenberger retired from White Sands in 1980.

Mr. Durenberger died in 2005.