The Occult History of JPL and the Origins of NASA

NASA has been the preeminent space exploration program for the past 60 years, and it continues to push to reach the furthest reaches of the known galaxy. But while NASA is highly regarded by most people, its origins are much lesser known, either by design, or because people just aren’t interested in knowing the seeds that lead to the launching of the American space program. And the truth behind the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) which was the precursor to NASA, and one its main founders, Jack Parsons, are dark and sinister. Here’s a quick rundown of the history of JPL, the lab that lead directly to the NASA program.

 

‘Jack Parsons Lab’

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The creation of JPL was rooted in the early experiments of a rocket scientist and chemical engineer by the name of Jack Parsons, born in 1914. In 1939, Parsons, a child genius by all accounts, hooked up with some other big brains and obtained funding from the National Academy of Sciences to experiment with jet-propelled aviation that could be used by the American military. By 1943, the group had formed JPL, but even among the other members, the nickname for JPL was ‘Jack Parsons Lab’ to indicate that Parsons was the major influence. Parsons specialized in working with very dangerous and volatile rocket-fuels, and is credited with the development of liquid and solid-fuel rockets, which would many years later become the foundation of sending men to the Moon.

JPL worked for the Army, but was still part of the California Institute of Technology, where Parsons and several of his colleagues studied. The group’s first Jet Assisted Take Off (JATO), occurred in 1941 at March Field, California, when a solid fuel jet was added to an ERCO Ercoupe to facilitate take off. The solid fuel JATO was perfected and used in World War II combat action.

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