Press Release

Events Mark JPL Rocket Test 75th Anniversary

By SpaceRef Editor
October 25, 2011
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Events Mark JPL Rocket Test 75th Anniversary
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PASADENA, Calif. – To mark the 75th anniversary of the first rocket experiments at the site that became NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., several events are planned. A free, public screening of a new documentary about the historic event will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 25, at 8 p.m., at the California Institute of Technology’s Beckman Auditorium in Pasadena. This never- before-seen film, called “The American Rocketeer,” is part of a mini-documentary series. Additional screenings are planned at JPL for employees on Monday, Oct. 31.

On Halloween day in 1936, a group of Caltech students and rocket enthusiasts, led by Frank Malina, conducted the first stand-up rocket engine test in the deserted, scruffy Pasadena Arroyo. This day would go down in history as the beginning of what is now JPL, the world’s leading center for robotic exploration of the solar system and beyond. The 90-minute episode takes viewers on a journey through Malina’s life using personal letters, historic video footage, drawings and paintings.

Attendees at the Caltech and JPL events will also have the opportunity to view a full-size replica of a WAC Corporal rocket, a liquid-fueled rocket, that became the first sounding rocket developed by the JPL team.

Seating at the Oct. 25 public screening at Caltech is first-come, first-served. The documentary director, Blaine Baggett, who is JPL’s communications and education director, will make brief remarks after an introduction by former JPL director and current Caltech professor Ed Stone. Baggett and Stone will be available for interviews before the event.

Caltech’s Beckman Auditorium is located at 332 South Michigan Avenue in Pasadena (Michigan Avenue south of Del Mar Boulevard). Parking information is available at: http://www.its.caltech.edu/~ope/techinfo/beckman.shtml .

The private employee screenings will take place throughout the day at JPL on Oct. 31. News media representatives who would like to cover the event at JPL must RSVP in advance to Media Relations at 818-354-5011.

The documentary series, “Beginnings of the Space Age,” will mark its television premiere on KCET Los Angeles in November and includes: “The American Rocketeer” on Nov. 3 at 9 p.m.; “Explorer 1” on Nov. 10 at 9 p.m.; and “Destination Moon” on Nov. 17 at 9 p.m. Each episode will be repeated on KCET Los Angeles at 10 p.m. on the Saturday following the initial broadcast.

Caltech manages JPL for NASA. More information about “The American Rocketeer” and the documentary series is online at: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/rocketeer/ .

SpaceRef staff editor.