Vahey S. Kupelian: A Genocide Survivor and a Rocket Science Pioneer

Vahey S. Kupelian was born in 1912 in a small village in Armenia, a country that was then part of the Ottoman Empire. He was one of the few survivors of the Armenian Genocide, a systematic massacre of 1.5 million Armenians by the Turkish government during World War I. He witnessed the horrors of the genocide firsthand, as his family and friends were killed or deported. He managed to escape with his mother and sister, and they eventually settled in Boston, Massachusetts.

Kupelian showed an exceptional talent for mathematics and science from an early age. He attended the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) at the age of 13, where he studied engineering and physics. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1932 and a master’s degree in 1934. He then joined the MIT Radiation Laboratory, where he worked on radar technology and microwave electronics.

During World War II, Kupelian was recruited by the US Army to work on the development of rockets and missiles. He was involved in several projects, such as the V-2 rocket, the Corporal missile, and the Nike missile. He also contributed to the design of the first atomic bomb, as part of the Manhattan Project. He was awarded the Legion of Merit and the Medal of Freedom for his wartime service.

After the war, Kupelian continued to work for the US Army as a civilian scientist and engineer. He became the chief scientist for ballistic missile defense, overseeing the research and development of anti-missile systems. He was also the deputy undersecretary of defense of strategic and theater nuclear forces under President Ronald Reagan, responsible for the planning and execution of the US nuclear strategy. He was a strong advocate of the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), also known as Star Wars, a program that aimed to create a space-based missile shield to protect the US from a nuclear attack.

Kupelian was also the head of the High-Intensity Technology (HIT) program, a secret project that explored the use of lasers, particle beams, and other directed-energy weapons for military purposes. He was one of the pioneers of the field of directed-energy weapons, and he held several patents for his inventions. He was also a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the American Physical Society.

Kupelian died in 1988 at the age of 76, leaving behind a legacy of scientific and technological achievements. He was a remarkable man who overcame the trauma of the genocide and rose to the highest ranks of the US defense establishment. He was a visionary who foresaw the potential of space and energy as the new frontiers of warfare. He was a genius who made significant contributions to the fields of rocket science, nuclear physics, and directed-energy weapons. He was Vahey S. Kupelian, a genocide survivor and a rocket science pioneer.


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