Kenneth Pounds has made important contributions to solar and cosmic X-ray astronomy both as a very able and innovative experimentalist and by vigorous leadership of the group he established at Leicester. He pioneered the use of space techniques for this work, playing a major role in introducing proportional counting for spectral studies, pulse length discrimination for signal/noise ratio improvement, Bragg crystal spectroscopy, the employment of balanced filter techniques and in applying the microchannel multiplier combined with a two-dimensional readout system to achieve resolutions of a few arc seconds on the US ‘Einstein’ satellite. These developments enabled him to make the first direct measurements of solar broadband X-ray spectra and to obtain most of the early high-resolution data. He was quick to perceive the value of very simple rocket experiments for sky-surveys and so carried out the first UK cosmic X-ray observation discovering early evidence for the transience of some sources. Kenneth’s research, leadership, accuracy of scientific judgement and astute perception of the current problems have gained for him a well-deserved international reputation.