Mr. Francis J. Madden
Mr. Francis J. Madden Draper Prize
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  • Draper
Charles Stark Draper Prize for Engineering
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Francis J. Madden was the key contributor responsible for designing, testing, and production of the Corona cameras and their subsequently improved versions.

Not satisfied with the earliest designs, Mr. Madden engineered a panoramic camera that successfully moved the film through the unit’s complex mechanism to produce the highest quality imagery, even while meeting weight limitations and withstanding the harsh launch environment.

Even today, the Corona camera design is considered among the most advanced ever created for overhead photography. Mr. Madden’s inspired adaptation of techniques from the motion-picture film, fabrics, and other industries helped lead to the astonishing speed with which the Corona project was developed.

Mr. Madden continued to serve as Chief Engineer on Itek Corporation’s Corona camera program until his retirement in 1975. During that time, he also collaborated with Boston University’s Physical Research Laboratory. In 1995, he was recognized for his work on Corona by the Director of Central Intelligence, and in 2000, was named a Pioneer of National Reconnaissance by the National Reconnaissance Office.

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  • Draper
  • 2005
  • For the design, development, and operation of Corona, the first space-based Earth observation system.