Col Quenten Albert
Riepe played an important role in Air Force space history as
the first project manager for the defense satellite program.
Born on 9 April 1919, Riepe attended the University of
Minnesota where he earned a Bachelor's degree in
Aeronautical Engineering in 1951. During World War II, Riepe
had been assigned as a pilot in the 17th Troop Carrier
Squadron. He also served as General Patton's pilot and had
spent some of the Italian campaign with Patton in "the
Queen's quarters" in Palermo.
In 1951, as
Chief of the Flight Research Lab at Wright Air Development
Center (WADC), Col Riepe completed one of the first space
utility and feasibility reports to determine methods and
goals. From 1952 to 1955, Col Riepe served as Project
Officer and as Systems Planning Officer in the Weapon
Systems Division at HQ WADC.
During this same
time, Col Riepe also served as the RAND liaison officer on
the Advanced Reconnaissance System, MX-2226 (Project 1115).
His liaison duties involved overseeing many aspects of the
development of reconnaissance satellites: attitude,
guidance, and control; a solar-electrical energy converter;
intelligence processing methods; the auxiliary power plant;
and the effects of nuclear radiation on electronic
Air Command and Staff College in 1955, Col Riepe was
assigned as Chief, Plans Programs Branch, Western
Development Division (WDD), for the initial Air Force
satellite system, Weapon System 117L (WS-117L). Then, four
months after the Soviets launched Sputnik I, Col Riepe
became Chief, Facilities and Test Division, WDD, for the
Discoverer satellite system. He was assigned the task of
implementing the complete ground facilities and support
systems for this program. This included responsibility for
construction of pads and the assembly building to support
the firing of the first Air Force research and development
In 1958, Col
Riepe served as Chief, Systems Support Division, WS-117L,
for the Air Force Ballistic Missile Division (AFBMD). This
was followed by tours as Director of the MIDAS satellite
system (1959-1960) and as Director, 698AL Directorate, for
the HQ Space Systems Division (SSD) (1961-1962).
Col Riepe's next
assignment, from 1962 to 1964, was as Director of Program
437, the Air Force's first operational antisatellite system.
Program 437 used a Thor booster to carry a 1.5 megaton yield
nuclear warhead to a target up to 200 nautical miles high.
This system, deployed on Johnson Atoll, had a variant
program (437X) which envisioned using the same launch
hardware to boost a camera/film return capsule of Discoverer
design to the orbit of a Soviet satellite to obtain
In 1964, Col
Riepe began a two-year assignment as Vice Commander, 6595
Aerospace Test Wing (ATW), of the Air Force Space and
Missile Test Center at Vandenberg AFB, California. The 6595
ATW was responsible for conducting launch operations for
assigned missile and space systems at both Vandenberg AFB
and Cape Kennedy AFS, Florida.
retirement from the Air Force in 1966, after more than 23
years of active duty service, Col Riepe served as a NASA
Board Member on the Gemini Agena Target Vehicle Review Board
(GATVRB). The GATVRB investigated all aspects of the Agena
failure of 25 October 1965.
Source: HQ AFSPC