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Stephen Madden, retired professor who worked on Apollo missions, dies at 70

Stephen J. Madden, Jr., a retired professor who taught in several MIT departments, died Oct. 7. He was 70.

Madden, a mathematician by training, worked at Draper Laboratory and taught in the Departments of Mathematics, Aeronautics and Astronautics, and Earth and Planetary Sciences.

Much of his research involved celestial navigation, flight, fluid mechanics and gravity. As part of the Apollo missions, he was responsible for determining the precise location of the moon throughout the mission, allowing the deployment and redocking of the lunar module to the mother ship.

Later, at Draper Laboratory, he performed early research on GPS systems. One of his last projects was for the LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) system, designed to detect gravity waves from distant supernovas, yielding clues to the fundamental structure of the universe.

Born in Newton, Mass., on June 8, 1936, Madden earned his B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in mathematics, all from MIT. He spent his entire 52-year professional career at MIT and its affiliated institutes.

Madden, who lived in Lexington and Provincetown, enjoyed fishing on the beaches of Cape Cod National Seashore and loved classical music, gardening and chemistry.

Madden is survived by his wife, Nancy Widmer Madden; a son, Dean Madden of Hanover, N.H.; a daughter, Elizabeth Madden Mirabile of Newton; two brothers, Robert H. Madden of Newton and John R. Madden of Duxbury; and five grandchildren.

A memorial service is planned for June 9, 2007 at the Auburndale Cove in Newton.

Donations may be made to the Stephen J. Madden, Jr. Memorial Fund, c/o Office of Memorial Gifts, MIT, Room E19-439, 77 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02139.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on November 22, 2006 (download PDF).

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