H. Douglas Vitagliano, a mechanical engineer whose expertise in optics was employed in the design of space telescopes at the Goddard Space Flight Center, died Monday of cancer at Howard County General Hospital. He was 66 and had lived in Columbia since 1964.
He became interested in telescopes while serving in the Army at Aberdeen Proving Ground in the early 1950s. After he was discharged, he continued to work at Aberdeen as a civilian until 1962, when he joined the National Aeronautics and Space Administration as a deputy project manager.
With NASA, one of the first projects he worked on was the Goddard Experimental Package, a telescope that was part of an orbiting astronomical observatory.
He was the lead mechanical, structural and optical designer of the telescope and spectrograph used aboard the International Ultraviolet Explorer satellite that was launched in 1978, and still is used by astronomers worldwide.
He also worked on the Goddard High Resolution Spectrograph that was installed on the Hubble Space Telescope. The spectrograph provides information on light from distant stars.
When he retired in 1993, he was deputy project manager and designer of the Space Imaging Spectrograph that will be installed on the Hubble Telescope in 1997.
Mr. Vitagliano received many awards from NASA during his career.
He was born and reared in Concord, N.H., where he attended local schools. He was a 1949 graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass.
He coached Little League and basketball teams and competed in many 10K road races in the Columbia area.
A memorial service was planned for 11 a.m. tomorrow at Christ Memorial Presbyterian Church, 6410 Amherst Ave., Columbia.
Survivors include his wife of 42 years, the former Patricia Ann Ehrlich; two sons, David H. and Douglas M. Vitagliano, both of Columbia; a sister, Barbara Bridges Elliott of Gloucester, Mass.; his parents, Harold and Irene Vitagliano of New London, N.H.; and two nephews.