“The New Zealand Native Who Helped Open the Door to the Stars”

17 March 2004 – William Pickering, one of the leading figures in US space exploration, died of pneumonia in California aged 92.  A graduate of Canterbury University and the California Institute of Technology, Wellington-born Pickering rose to prominence as Director of the US Air Force’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. It was in this capacity that he oversaw America’s first successful space flight and subsequent decades of planetary discovery. “Dr Pickering was one of the titans of our nation’s space program,” said current JPL director, Charles Elachi. “It was his leadership that took   America into space and opened up the moon and planets to the world.” Similarly glowing epitaphs appeared in the New York Times, Guardian, Sydney Morning Herald, and Independent.” [He]brought a vision and passion to space exploration that was remarkable,” said NASA’s Associate Administrator for Space Science, Ed Weiler, in Pickering’s official obituary. “His pioneering work is the very foundation we have built upon to explore our solar system and beyond.”

William Pickering: 24 December 1910 – 15 March 2004


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