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WILLIAM HAYWARD PICKERING

1910–2004


Elected in 1964 (Founding Member)


BY JOHN R. CASANI

Lumen accipe et imperti: Accept the light (of knowledge) and pass it on.

Motto of Wellington College, the school that ignited William Pickering’s interest in science and technology

“More than any other individual, Bill Pickering was responsible for America’s success in exploring the planets— an endeavor that demanded vision, courage, dedication, expertise and the ability to inspire two generations of scientists and engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.”

Thomas Everhart, President Emeritus, California Institute of Technology


WILLIAM HAYWARD PICKERING—“MR. JPL,” the original “Rocket Man,” America’s deep space pioneer, director of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL; 1954–1976), and California Institute of Technology (Caltech) professor of electrical engineering, emeritus—died on March 15, 2004. He lived a life that was nearly beyond belief, as William Pickering’s love for science, mathematics, and technology launched him on a career that the young Pickering could only begin to imagine: a leading role in opening the Space Age, the guiding force behind the launch of the first U.S. satellite and the exploration of distant planets.



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