John Hodge obituary | Space

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At 11am on 20 February 1959, the Canadian prime minister John Diefenbaker announced the axing of the revolutionary Avro Arrow aircraft project. The fighter was enormously expensive, but had sustained 25,000 hi-tech Canadian jobs. By 3pm on that day Avro was telling employees (via its PA system) that they were being laid off. Among the thousands to go was John Hodge, a British engineer born in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex.

The subsequent career of Hodge, who has died aged 92, embodied the aspiration, triumph, catastrophe – and planning – that made up the saga of space flight during the cold war years, when scientists from across the west were drawn into that vast American enterprise. By 1969, in the wake of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s moon landing, the BBC’s space correspondent Reginald Turnill, citing the “anglonaut” Hodge as an example, was telling Radio 4 listeners that the “astonishing thing about America’s post-Apollo space plans was…

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