Steve Jobs Remembered by NASA & Space Industry

Apple founder and former CEO Steve Jobs.
Apple founder and former CEO Steve Jobs. (Image credit: Apple)

This story was updated at 1:30 p.m. ET.

NASA officials, scientists and experts among the commercial space industry are taking moments to honor the memory of Steve Jobs today (Oct. 6) following news of the Apple founder's death last night.

At NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffet Field, Calif., the U.S. space agency's supercomputing base near Silicon Valley, Jobs' death hit home.

"We'll miss the innovation you brought to technology," Ames officials wrote in a Twitter message. "RIP Steve Jobs."

The news of Jobs' death at age 56 following a long battle with pancreatic cancer was announced late Wednesday by Apple, which posted a statement on its website.

The scientists behind NASA's Kepler space observatory, a mission that is seeking out alien planets by studying the light from distant stars, were also compelled to speak out on Jobs' life and work. [Related: Steve Jobs: Politicians, Celebrities and Luminaries React]

Jobs has been credited as the driving force behind many of Apple's game-changing products, including the iPhone. NASA astronauts have carried Apple's iPods on space shuttle missions to the International Space Station to carry personal music. The first iPhones in space launched in July on NASA's last space shuttle mission.

"Your innovative vision inspired a world beyond its limits," Kepler scientists wrote on Twitter. "You will be profoundly missed. Thank you Steve Jobs. RIP."

Outside NASA, the death of Steve Jobs resonated just as it did across Silicon Valley and the world over.

Alan Stern, a planetary scientist at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colo., who serves as principal investigator for NASA's New Horizons spacecraft bound for Pluto, said the impact of Jobs' contribution to modern technology cannot be overstated. 

"Salute to a brilliant man who changed the world for the better, a true leader," Stern wrote in a Twitter message.  

Elon Musk, the millionaire founder and CEO of the private spaceflight company Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), said today that Jobs was one of his heroes, according to a SpaceX Twitter update.

"He must have affected, directly, the lives of over a billion people, and made the world a better place for them," Musk said. Musk made his fortune as the co-founder of the Internet payment service PayPal before founding SpaceX in 2002. 

Private spaceflight entrepreneur Dave Masten, founder of Masten Space Systems in Mojave, Calif., said his professional life began with the computers that Jobs and Apple pioneered. Masten's firm is building reusable commercial rockets and has a contract with NASA for suborbital unmanned spaceflights.

"My first code was for the Apple II," Masten wrote on Twitter. "I might have something in my eye. Goodbye Steve Jobs."

Apple has invited people to share their thoughts, memories and condolences by writing to

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Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.