Computer Genius And Rocket Motor Developer Leaves Indelible
SpaceDev, Inc. has announced that SpaceDev Founder and Board
Member James Benson, 63, died peacefully in his home Friday.
Benson was diagnosed in 2007 with a glioblastoma multiforme
brain tumor, the cause of his death early on the morning of October
10. He had resigned from an operational role in SpaceDev in
September 2006. Benson retained a seat on the Board of
Directors of SpaceDev where he had continued to support the Company
that he founded in 1997.
"Jim was a true visionary," said Mark Sirangelo, SpaceDev's CEO
and Chairman of the Board. "He saw that space exploration could be
more effective if done commercially, and formed SpaceDev to make
that dream become a reality. He will be missed by many but his
legacy contained in SpaceDev will continue to forward his vision
for the commercialization of space. On behalf of the employees,
board and shareholders of SpaceDev we would like to express our
condolences to the Benson family."
Prior to founding SpaceDev, Benson spent thirty years associated
with the computer field, spanning the era from the introduction of
modern mainframe computers, to the dominance of the computer
industry by microcomputers. Benson invented modern full text
computer indexing and searching in 1984, and exploited the new
field through companies he founded, Compusearch and ImageFast of
After his successful career as a computer industry entrepreneur,
Benson decided to take on the challenge of starting an innovative
space commercialization venture because it combined his lifelong
interests in science, technology and astronomy with his successful
business experience. SpaceDev was the result.
As ANN previously reported, Benson was
passionate about the development of the commercialization of space
travel. "Through safe and lower cost solutions produced by fast
moving, entrepreneurial companies like SpaceDev," Benson said in
December 2004, "we could be delivering cargo and people to space in
"The new enthusiasm from the public is already leading to a
rebirth of the space industry, with a new generation of 'space
cadets' -- those students enrolling in the burgeoning university
programs for astronautical -- rather than aeronautical
--engineering programs, spearheading a 'next-generation' of space
industry careers and experts," he continued. "I am happy and proud
to be part of this new wave of economic activity and a new start on
the human exploration and development of the Infinite Frontier!
This is truly revolutionary."
In addition to his roles in SpaceDev and Benson Space, Benson
had been a member of the Board of Directors of the California Space
Authority. He founded the non-profit Space Development Institute,
and introduced the Benson Prize for Amateur Discovery of Near Earth
Benson received a Bachelor of Science degree in Geology from the
University of Missouri in Kansas City, his home town. He is
survived by his wife Susan, 3 children and 4 grandchildren. The
family is planning a memorial service later in the year.