Gordon Thompson joined the BIS in 1946, and served as a Council Member almost continuously from 1946 to 1994. He was President of the Society from 1979 to 1982. He contributed to early studies on the possibility of a Lunar Base as a step towards the exploration and ultimate aim of colonization of the Solar System. He also co-edited the proceedings of two of the Society’s “Materials for Space Technology” symposia, held in London in November 1961 and September 1962.
In support of the Society’s policy of disseminating knowledge of astronautics to a wider public, he published two books “The Adventure of Space Travel” (1953), and “Artificial Satellites” (1962) – the latter describing the use of satellites for scientific measurements, intercontinental communications and TV broadcast relay. He also predicted the use of larger satellites as observatories and refuelling stations.
Educated at Great Yarmouth Grammar School, he obtained a Royal Scholarship in Physics and Mathematics, studying chemistry at Imperial College, graduating with the ARCS and a BSc in 1941. After experience as a works chemist, he was employed for several years as Senior Information Officer to the British Non-Ferrous Metals Research Association. Later he combined his chemical and chemical engineering interests with a sound knowledge of Russian, and became a much sought-after translator of Soviet scientific and technical literature. From 1961 he was Translation Editor of the Russian Journal of Inorganic Chemistry and (jointly) Russian Chemical Reviews – cover-to-cover translations of Zhurnal Neoganicheskoi Khimii and Uspekhi Khimii. He edited JBIS from April 1957 to December 1965.
He was also proficient in French, German and Chinese, and later, as one of the first to enrol with the Open University, was awarded an Honours degree in Mathematics and Physics in 1982. Apart from his scientific interests, he was a member of the General Assembly and committees of the Open University, secretary of a constituency party, and a bass in local choirs.