Donald Prickett

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Donald Irwin Prickett
Born(1919-07-16)July 16, 1919
Irricana, Alberta, Canada
DiedFebruary 3, 2004(2004-02-03) (aged 84)
Clarkdale, Arizona
Service/branchUnited States Air Force
Commands heldResearch Directorate
Air Force Special Weapons Center

Donald Irwin Prickett (1919-2004) was a United States Air Force (USAF) Colonel who served as the research director for the Air Force Special Weapons Center at Kirtland Air Force Base in the 1950s and 60s.[1]


Prickett served as a bomber pilot for the United States Air Force during World War II. After studying nuclear physics at Ohio State University, he worked at the Pentagon on research and development of nuclear power. Prickett was then assigned to Kirtland Air Force Base where he became the research director for the Air Force Special Weapons Center, particularly in relation to the use of nuclear power. Prickett was a program director for tests of the hydrogen bombs, such as Castle Bravo.[1] According to Prickett, he was present for more than 100 atmospheric tests of nuclear bombs in Nevada and the South Pacific between 1951 and 1963, and stated he received the maximum dosage of two Rads radiation every series.[1] Pickett was the USAF Liaison officer for the Orion Project nuclear powered spacecraft.[1] Pickett retired from the military in 1967.[2]

Star Trek[edit]

Prickett was also a friend of Gene Roddenberry, they having served together in the USAF during the WWII. When Roddenberry was developing and pitching the idea for Star Trek in 1964, he initially contacted Prickett for help as a technical advisor.[3] Prickett wrote to RAND Corporation scientists on Roddenberry's behalf[4] which resulted in Harvey P. Lynn, Jr, a RAND Corporation physicist, serving as scientific adviser for Star Trek's pilot episode, "The Cage".[3]

Personal life[edit]

Prickett was born in Irricana, Alberta, Canada on July 16, 1919.[2] He was married for 61 years to his wife, Mary, with whom he had three children.[2] He died on February 3, 2004 in Clarkdale, Arizona at the age of 84.[2]


Prickett appeared in the television documentary To Mars by A-Bomb: The Secret History of Project Orion (BBC, 2003).


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Dyson, George (2002). Project Orion : the true story of the atomic spaceship (1. ed.). New York: Henry Holt and Co. pp. 193–5. ISBN 9780805059854. Search this book on Logo.png
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "Prickett". Albuquerque Journal. February 27, 2004. p. Obituary. Retrieved 7 March 2015.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Shatner, William (2002-08-02). I'm Working On That: A Trek From Science Fiction To Science Fact. Star Trek Series. Pocket Books/Star Trek. ISBN 9780743453738. Search this book on Logo.png
  4. "Star Trek1964 Pitch, Treatment and Documents". Auction Catalog Information. Julien's Auctions. December 2014. pp. Lot 514A. Retrieved 7 March 2015. Rodenberry first reached out to United States Air Force Colonel Donald I. Prickett, with the Weapons Effects and Tests Group in Albuquerque, New Mexico in early May of 1964. Contrary to popular belief, Prickett did not immediately put Roddenberry in touch with Harvey Lynn, the man who would become technical advisor for the series, he instead contacted Mr. Jack Whitener a nuclear physicist with the RAND corporation in California. The first letter dated May 25, 1964 from Prickett to Whitener included “…a series prospectus written by a friend who is a TV writer and producer.” Prickett goes on to explain that “the writer is interested in the reaction of people in the scientific community” and “may also be interested in getting some advice on this fairly soon.”

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