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Peter E. Glaser papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MC-0569

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The papers of Peter E. Glaser document his professional career and personal activities from 1944 to 2000, with the bulk of the materials dating from 1975 to 1995.

A large portion of the collection reflects Glaser’s work and interest in solar energy applications, especially the solar power satellite. While relevant items may be found throughout the collection, most of these papers are gathered in Series 5, Subseries B, Solar energy applications, which brings together material of various formats (including a large number of publications and clippings) relating to Glaser’s solar energy research and advocacy.

Other series and subseries include material documenting different facets of Glaser’s interest in solar energy. Glaser’s leadership of the Sunsat Energy Council is well documented in Series 2, Professional Organization Records. Material documenting Glaser’s research and promotion of solar energy and the solar power satellite is distributed throughout Series 4, Professional Activities - Research and Advocacy Records. Within Series 4, a large quantity of relevant material may be found in the chronologically organized “Solar energy applications - Peter E. Glaser appearances” set of folders in Subseries E, Public appearances, and in Subseries F, Congressional testimony. Of particular interest are the numerous papers and reports by Glaser and others detailing the benefits and problems associated with solar power satellites, as well as Glaser’s testimonies before the House and Senate on behalf of the proposed satellite, which document public discussions of alternative energy sources during the energy crisis of the 1970s. A somewhat more limited set of material relating to solar energy may also be found in Series 3, Arthur D. Little, Inc. Project Records, especially Subseries A, Technical reports.

Glaser’s other interests in aerospace science and technology are also well represented in the collection. As with the solar energy materials, many of the aerospace materials are collected in Series 5, Professional Interests - Subject Files, Subseries A, Space science and technology. Papers relating to numerous aerospace research and advocacy organizations (Glaser was a member of many) are located in Series 2, Professional Organization Records. A substantial portion of the papers in Series 3, Arthur D. Little, Inc. Project Records, documents Glaser’s work in space science and technology (in particular Subseries A, Technical reports, and the “Technical” section of Subseries B, Publicity). Relevant material may also be found throughout Series 4, Professional Activities - Research and Advocacy Records.

Glaser’s professional papers also document his interest and activity in the environment, the commercialization of space, refrigeration technology, and engineering in general.

Series 3, Arthur D. Little, Inc. Project Records, includes material documenting the administration, organization, and employment practices of the firm. Of special interest is a fairly sizable collection of newsletters and other publications created by the company.

A small selection of papers (including course notebooks) in Series 1, Biographical Information, Subseries C, Education, offers documentation of graduate education in engineering at Columbia University in the 1950s. Material relating to Glaser’s education in Czechoslovakia is not well represented. Other material in Series 1 reflects Glaser’s activities and interests in Jewish religious and charitable organizations.


  • 1944 - 2000


Access note

This collection is open.

Conditions Governing Use

Access to collections in the Department of Distinctive Collections is not authorization to publish. Please see the MIT Libraries Permissions Policy for permission information. Copyright of some items in this collection may be held by respective creators, not by the donor of the collection or MIT.


Peter E. Glaser was born on September 5, 1923, in Zatec, Bohemia, Czechoslovakia. He immigrated to the United States in 1948 and became a U.S. citizen in 1954. Glaser was educated at Leeds College of Technology in the United Kingdom, Charles University in Prague, and Columbia University in New York, from which he received his M.S. (1951) and his Ph.D. (1955) degrees in mechanical engineering.

Glaser was the head of the design department at Werner Management Company in New York City from 1948 to 1953. From 1955 to 1999 he was employed at Arthur D. Little, Inc., serving as a vice president at the time of his retirement. At Arthur D. Little, he worked with chemists, physicists, and engineers on consulting projects in aerospace, solar energy, and materials science. He served as project manager for the Apollo 11 Laser Ranging Retroreflector Array; he was also project manager for the Lunar Heat Flow Probes and the Initial Blood Storage Experiment, which explored gravitational effects on human blood cells. At the Intersociety Engineering Energy Conversion Conference in 1968, he presented the concept of the solar power satellite to harness the sun’s power for use on Earth, and in November 1968 the idea was published in the journal Science. In 1973, he was granted a U.S. patent for the solar power satellite concept. Drawing on his experience in space science and technology, solar energy conversion, and wireless power transmission, Glaser became an energetic advocate of solar power satellites as a solution to the global energy dilemma, writing articles and giving lectures and interviews on the topic. His work on solar energy applications includes the development of photovoltaic conversion systems, solar concentrators, solar heating and cooling systems, and applications of solar technology in developing countries.

In 1978, Glaser formed the Sunsat Energy Council (SUNSAT), an organization associated with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). He has served on committees of the National Academy of Sciences and the Office of Technology Assessment of the United States Congress, and he has testified about solar power satellites before House and Senate committees.

Glaser was president of the International Solar Energy Society (1968-1969) and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Solar Energy (1971-1984). He was the recipient of the Carl F. Kayan medal from Columbia University in 1974. He also received the Farrington Daniels Award from the International Solar Energy Society in 1983.

Glaser is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics. He is a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineering, the American Astronautical Society (AAS), the National Space Society (NSS), and the International Astronautical Federation (IAF). In 1993, the National Space Society and the International Astronautical Federation established the Peter Glaser Plenary Lecture to be given at the Annual Congress. Glaser is a regent of the United Societies in Space (USS). In 1996, he was inducted into the Space Technology Hall of Fame of the United States Space Foundation (USSF).


32 Cubic Feet (95 manuscript boxes, 1 flat box)

Language of Materials



Materials are stored off-site. Advance notice is required for use.

Source of Acquisition

Materials were given to the Department of Distinctive Collections (formerly the Institute Archives and Special Collections) by Peter E. Glaser in 2001 and 2002. Additional material was given by Glaser in 2005.

Guide to the Papers of Peter E. Glaser
Ready For Review
Elizabeth Andrews, Michele Baildon, Ewa Basinska, Johanna Carll
Copyright 2004
Language of description
Script of description
The processing of the collection was funded by a gift from Peter E. Glaser.

Repository Details

Part of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Libraries. Department of Distinctive Collections Repository

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Libraries
Building 14N-118
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Cambridge MA 02139-4307 US