LA Adventure Specialist - 11:11 23 December 2009

Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)

Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center located in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County, California, United States. The facility is situated in the northern portion of Pasadena. JPL is managed by the nearby California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Laboratory’s primary function is the construction and operation of robotic planetary spacecraft, though it also conducts Earth-orbit and astronomy missions. It is also responsible for operating NASA’s Deep Space Network. Among its current projects are the Cassini-Huygensmission to Saturn, the Mars Exploration Rovers (Spirit and Opportunity), the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, and the Spitzer Space Telescope.

JPL’s Space Flight Operations Facility and Twenty-Five-Foot Space Simulator are designated National Historic Landmarks. Being nicely viewed from one of our Los Angeles Helicopter tours, it is a very rich piece of California history and forward thinking technology.

JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) traces its history back to 1936, when the first set of rocket experiments were carried out in the Arroyo Seco. Caltech graduate studentsFrank Malina, Weld Arnold, Apollo M. O. Smith, and Tsien Hsue-shen, along with Jack Parsons and Edward Forman, tested a small, alcohol fueled motor to gather data for Malina’s graduate thesis. Malina’s thesis advisor was aerodynamicist Theodore von Karman, who eventually arranged for U.S. Army financial support for this “GALCIT Rocket Project” in 1939. In 1941, Malina, Parsons, Forman, Martin Summerfield, and pilot Homer Bushey demonstrated the first JATO rockets to the Army. In 1943, Von Karman, Malina, Parsons, and Forman established the Aerojet Corporation to manufacture JATO motors, and the following year JPL formally became an Army facility operated under contract by Caltech.[1]

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