- Status Report
- February 26, 2024
Ken Souza, Space Biologist
Keith’s note: I was deeply saddened to learn that my long time friend Ken Souza died suddenly yesterday. Ken was probably the first NASA life scientist I got to know when I started with NASA in the mid-1980s.
Ken worked on just about every imaginable type of life science mission one could imagine and just had so much information in his head. I wondered how he had managed to know so many things. Over the years, as a mentor and a friend, he would impart a lot of technical knowledge, advice – and always, humor. During times when NASA seemed to want to walk away from space biology he kept it alive at NASA Ames. Ken was relentless in terms of his energy and never seemed to rest – even after he had technically retired from NASA. In fact the retirement designation in 2002 after 35 years at NASA Ames research Center meant that he could just stay equally busy doing more of what he wanted to do without all of the management headaches.
A lot of us in the space biology family are a bit numb right now. At the time of his death Ken was engaged in putting together a memorial for his long-time friend and colleague Thora Halstead who had passed away just a few days earlier. Last week I remarked that space botanist Mark Watney from “The Martian” owed his life to Thora Halstead’s long legacy at the helm of NASA’s space biology program. Let me amend that. Mark Watney owed his Mars farming smarts equally to Thora’s program management and Ken’s trail blazing hardware. Together they were the first to do so many things in space. Ad astra Ken.