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Tom Kaiser

Kaiser was born on May 2nd 1924, was brought up and educated in Melbourne, Australia. He graduated in 1943 with a first in physics and radio-physics. In 1949, he handed out leaflets opposing the decision of the government in his homeland of Australia to jail striking miners. Because he was on a Commonwealth research scholarship, he refused to give his name to journalists, who were given it by Australia House officials. The Australian premier complained and his grant was ended and he was ordered to return to Australia.

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Tom Kaiser

He became an ICI research fellow in 1950 at Jodrell Bank, where he worked on the ionisation trails of meteors, work which was recognised 40 years later as still central to space science. Kaiser was a member of the British Communist Party from this time. His support for the campaign to save the Rosenbergs saw his having to move from Jodrell and he moved on to lecture at Reading University.

In 1956, he became the senior lecturer at Sheffield University, where he was the first to propose that space technology would be vital for the study of the upper atmosphere. Kaiser left the Communist Party over Hungary in 1956 but did not move far politically for the rest of his life. He died on July 2nd 1998 aged 74.

Guardian 5th August 1998