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Albrecht "Alex" Kosmala

Date of Death: January 24, 2017

Date of Birth: August 29, 1932


KOSMALA, Alex L. of Brunswick, ME, formerly of Concord, MA and Waltham, MA passed away at age 84 on Tuesday, January 24, 2017 at his home surrounded by his wife and eldest children. He was born in Leipzig, Germany, on August 29, 1932 the son of the late Dr. Hans K.A. and Katharina (Hippe) Kosmala. The family moved to England in 1939 and he graduated from Finchley School and the University of London with a degree in Physics. A pioneering developer of aviation and aeronautics systems, Alex joined London-based Elliott Brothers, Ltd., and was involved in the development of the VC-10, one of the earliest European jet aircraft prototypes.

Alex came to the United States in 1959 as a guest engineer at MIT's Charles Stark Draper Instrumentation Laboratory where he worked on the Polaris missile project, NASA's predecessor to the Apollo moon missions. The MIT/Draper team successfully designed, tested and deployed the very first on-board navigation software for spaceflight – before the term 'software' even existed. Their Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC) made possible the first manned orbit around the moon (Apollo 8 in December, 1968) as well as the historic first manned moon landing (Apollo 11 on July 20, 1969). Alex continued to work on navigation systems through successive Space Shuttle missions as a founding employee of Intermetrics, a Cambridge MA technology company formed by some of the former MIT/Draper Apollo team. This work included the predecessor to the seminal global positioning system (GPS) that is now the basis of much of today's automotive navigation and smartphone technology.

Alex later worked for MITRE, a Federally-funded research and development center (FFRDC) based in Bedford, MA. He managed procurement on behalf of the US Air Force on projects such as the next-generation Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) aircraft. He retired from MITRE in 1998 and lived the remainder of his years in Maine near the (since de-commissioned) Brunswick Naval Air Station. He often enjoyed watching military aircraft perform training maneuvers overhead near the residence.

Alex's passions and interests included mountain hiking, jazz and classical music, Formula One motorsports, and NHL hockey team, the Boston Bruins. He is survived by his wife of 39 years, Candace Litchfield, his son, Peter of Washington DC, daughter Kirsten Alper and her husband Jon of Waltham, MA, daughter Margaret and her husband Ben of Belmont, MA and son Daniel of Portland, ME. He also is survived by his brother, Rupert and his wife Daisy of Tewksbury, MA, nieces Kathy, Alison and Amy, nephew Sebastian, and by his four grandchildren, Zander, Katja, Sean and Kyle.

A memorial service is being arranged for spring in Massachusetts.

Remembrances may be made in Alex's name to The National Search Dog Rescue Foundation or to the Hospice Foundation of America.

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