Wednesday, February 13, 2008

William Pickering, Kiwi rocket Scientist

There are very few names that spring to mind when the average Kiwi is asked to name a famous scientist from our little country in the middle of nowhere. People usually spring for Ernest Rutherford, a distant relation of mine (insert sounds of own trumpet blowing here), as the Nobel laureate and noted physicist is a name known to many as the one who "split the atom". Another name, however, although not very well known, does spring to my mind.

A couple of years ago, another scientist from the Nelson area was honoured alongside Ernest by the people of Havelock, and that man was William Pickering. He was one of the main people heading the American race into space, and worked at JPL for many years. He is seen in the picture below (on the left) with Wernher Von Braun (right) and James Van Allen (centre) holding a model of Explorer 1, Feb 1 1958.

I urge you to read more about this amazing Kiwi who contributed so much to the world of space flight. There's a concise rundown of his life at or you could get hold of the book on his life by Douglas J Mudgeway.

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