Jack Parsons

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(October 2, 1914 – June 17, 1952)

Jack Parsons (1940s). Courtesy of Rob Hansen.

John Whiteside “Jack” Parsons (born Marvel Whiteside Parsons) was a California fan, rocket engineer and rocket propulsion researcher, chemist, inventor, businessman, writer, socialite, and Thelemite occultist. He supposedly belonged to LASFS, although he doesn’t appear in their database. He certainly knew some LASFansAlva Rogers lodged in his house, and he was the thinly-veiled model of Hugo Chantrelle, one of the characters in Anthony Boucher's Rocket to the Morgue. Boucher, Robert Heinlein, Jack Williamson and Ray Bradbury were friends of his, and Vida Jameson worked for him.

His occult involvement derived from Aleister Crowley — L. Ron Hubbard, introduced to him by Lou Goldstone, became one of his disciples, until Hubbard absconded with $20K of Parsons’ money and his young sister-in-law/girlfriend, Sara Northrup, whom Hubbard eventually married.

He was associated with the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), and was one of the principal founders of both the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and the Aerojet Engineering Corporation. He invented the first rocket engine using a castable, composite rocket propellant, and pioneered the advancement of both liquid-fuel and solid-fuel rockets.

He died in an explosion on June 17, 1952.

Person 19141952
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