John Chapman (1921-79) may not be remembered as one of the most influential people from the 60's, but his work in that decade charted a course for the Canadian space industry that is still being followed today. John Chapman led the team from Canada's Defence Research Telecommunications Establishment that designed and constructed Canada's first satellite Alouette. The satellite was originally going to be an instrument package that would ride on an American satellite, but at Chapman's insistence, Alouette became an actual Canadian satellite.
After the successful launch of Alouette in 1962 on a U.S. Thor-Agena rocket, Chapman negotiated the launching of three more Canadian satellites: Alouette 2 in 1965, ISIS 1 in 1969, and ISIS 2 in 1971. All four satellites were launched to study the ionosphere (a charged layer of the atmosphere) and the northern lights, or aurora borealis.
In 1967, Chapman was the senior author of a report entitled "Upper Atmosphere and Space Programs in Canada", an extremely influential report now known as "The Chapman Report". In this paper, Chapman recommended a major change in focus for the Canadian space program. He suggested that rather than concentrate on space science, Canadian satellites should be used to decrease the difficulties in communications and resource management caused by the country's enormous size.
Today, Canada is an international leader in the fields of communications and remote sensing satellites. Satellites help Canadians keep in touch across vast distances and manage the enormous resources of land and sea.
Canada's success in these fields would not have happened without John Chapman. His vision and leadership in the early years of Canada's space program made satellites the beneficial and essential part of Canada they are today.