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William H. Pickering: America's Deep Space Pioneer
NASA | 2007 | ISBN: 2007019158 | English | PDF | 269 pages | 4.6 MB

William Pickering first came to the attention of the world in 1958 when the media triumphantly announced the successful launch of Explorer 1, the American response to the Soviet deployment a few months earlier of the first Earth-orbiting satellite Sputnik. Along with Wernher von Braun and James Van Allen, William Pickering shared the limelight and the accolades. In that instant of time the Space Age was born, and with it the professional reputation of William H. Pickering.

By that time, he had already been the Director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for more than three years, and had been associated with the Laboratory for about ten years prior to that time as the head of one of its principal engineering divisions engaged in secret guided missile tests for the U.S. Army.

Shortly after the National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA) was established in 1958, Pickering became responsible for carrying out NASA’s Ranger program, a bold step to return live, close-up video images of the lunar surface in the last few moments before spacecraft impact. Although the program got off to a discouraging start, Pickering remained confident of ultimate success and, soon enough, the world saw its first close-up pictures of the Moon. These were followed by more sophisticated lunar missions that expanded our knowledge of the Moon and paved the way for the Apollo manned landings on the Moon.



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