John Buterbaugh was born in Chicago 1931 and passed away in his sleep April 26, 2016 after a long struggle with prostate cancer. His wife Sheila had passed away in 2014. John’s brother Gabriel lives in Chicago and has a son and two daughters.
John had a passion for electrical engineering, graduating with a BS EE from the University of Chicago in 1952 and he also attended the UCLA Graduate Studies Program in electrical engineering. John served in the Air Force during the Korean War and completed the Ground Electronics Officer Course in 1953.
Prior to John’s 30-year career at Hughes he worked at Rheem Electronics designing telemetry signal conditioning equipment. At North American Aviation, his tasks included “transistorizing” the airborne radar electronics of that time.
John started at Hughes Aircraft in 1959, before the existence of a Space and Communications Group. He initially specialized in voice and data communications electronic circuit design with an emphasis on micro-miniaturizing techniques. This led to the delivery of a high speed digital modulator for the U.S. Army.
John’s specialty at Hughes Space and Communications was assuring electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) of space hardware. This included the electronics within the spacecraft, scientific instruments carried by the spacecraft, as well as any and all external sources. He performed this function as a Systems Engineer working directly with the spacecraft design, development, and test organizations plus Scientific community for projects that included instruments.
Among the spacecraft programs that he supported that had a heavy concentration of Scientific Instruments were Surveyor, Orbiting Solar Observatory, Pioneer Venus, Magellan and Galileo. These included dozens of different instruments manufactured by many different universities and corporations. John was key during the design and test phase for each of these as well as the Hughes hardware. In addition, John was key to the EMC design of the HS376 series of Hughes commercial programs.
John and Sheila loved the water and boating (Manhattan Beach, Naples, Big Bear Lake). Their ashes will be scattered over the ocean in a private ceremony.