Outstanding local scientist, Dr Japie van Zyl dies
Namibian scientist and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) engineer, Dr Japie van Zyl died at the age of 63 from a heart attack on 26 August in California, USA.
Dr van Zyl was born at Outjo and went on to study at South Africa’s Stellenbosch University and the US before joining NASA. At NASA, he became one of the team members behind the Curiosity rover mission to Mars.
With a career of 33 years at NASA, Dr van Zyl rose through the ranks to serve on the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) Executive Council. Prior to his death, he was leading a team of scientists in developing a revolutionary rapid Covid-19 testing system.
In a message of condolence to his wife, Mrs Kalfie van Zyl and the entire family, President Hage Geingob said van Zyl made a complex field of space science and his work at NASA accessible to many young Namibian learners and dared them to dream through his exchanges with them.
““The passing of Dr Japie van Zyl has robbed our nation of an outstanding Scientist whose contributions in space research advanced our understanding of the universe. My exchanges with the highly affable Dr van Zyl during his visits to the country of his birth were always pleasant and illuminating,” Geingob said.
Caption: Dr Japie van Zyl and President Hage Geingob.