Martin George Jaenke was born October 22, 1911 in Tanneberg, Germany. The son of a country pastor, he received his basic education at St. Afra’s Fuerstenschule in Meissen, Saxony. Martin displayed technical genius at an early age, and built his own radio at the age of eleven. He attended the Technical Universities in Danzig (now Gdansk, Poland) and in Dresden. He received a Masters degree from Dresden in 1936, and a Ph.D. in 1939. Both degrees were in Electrical Engineering. While working for various companies in Germany, Dr. Jaenke contributed to the development of missile control systems and telecommunications equipment before and during World War II (1939-1945).
After encouragement from Dr. Ernst Steinhoff, a wartime colleague, Dr. Jaenke accepted an invitation to work for the U.S. Air Force in 1952 and moved to America in 1953. He became a U.S. citizen in 1958. Beginning in 1953, Jaenke worked at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico as Chief of the Projects Analysis Branch and the Technical Director of the Central Guidance Test Facility there until his retirement in 1974. He worked with various phases of missile and aircraft test evaluation, simulation and computation in those roles.
After retiring, Martin Jaenke served as a consultant to the U.S. government in the area of interference of micro-seismic ground motion with the testing of high-precision guidance systems. He also served as the Secretary, Vice President, and Member of the Board of Trustees of the New Mexico Research Institute, which he and Steinhoff co-founded in 1954 in Alamogordo, New Mexico. One of his primary missions at the Institute was exploring the potential of desalinization of the brackish water under the Tularosa Basin.
During his career, Dr. Jaenke played a major role in developing such significant innovations as the radio compass, VOR radio beacons, the radiotelephone, “Rascal” missile evaluations, analog computers, ballistic missile guidance systems, and guidance test symposia. Martin George Jaenke died in Alamogordo on April 20, 2001, at the age of 89.