William Ailor

William Ailor

Principal Director
Center for Orbital and Reentry Debris Studies
The Aerospace Corp.
PhD AAE 1974





"Engineering education teaches a thought process that is invaluable in analyzing and solving problems at work and in daily life. As a profession, engineering constantly opens the mind to new problems. One of the most satisfying aspects for me, in addition to the technical challenges, has been the opportunity to work with motivated and talented individuals who share an excitement for working toward the best solutions."

William Ailor III received his bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering and a master's degree in mechanical engineering from North Carolina State University and a PhD in aerospace engineering from Purdue, before joining The Aerospace Corp. in 1974.

He was appointed director of the El Segundo, California-based company's Center for Orbital and Reentry Debris Studies when the unit was formed in June 1997. During his career, he has published several articles and professional papers on space traffic control, reentry breakup, and space debris and has testified before Congress on the Leonid meteor storm's possible effects on satellites. He has been featured on NBC Nightly News, CBS Evening News, ABC News, CNN , The Discovery Channel and the Learning Channel on these topics. Ailor, a member of the International Academy of Astronautics, received a NASA Group Achievement Award in 1992 for his work in helping to understand the reentry breakup characteristics of the Space Shuttle External Tank.

Ailor is founder and president emeritus of the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy, which preserved more than 1,000 acres of open space during his 18-year leadership. For that achievement, he was named "Citizen of the Year" by the community of Palos Verdes in 2001. He also is a clarinetist for the Peninsula Symphonic Winds.