Thursday, June 30, 2005

The Strange Angel

Now here’s a strange one. Like me, you have probably never heard of John Whiteside Parsons (1914-1952). Seems to have slipped out of the history books. Who was he ? The father of the space age and an acolyte of Aleister Crowley.

Briefly, the uneducated Parsons had deep knowledge of explosives and became a leading member of a gang known as the Suicide Squad, who began performing rocketry experiments, funded entirely from their own pockets, in an around Caltech in the 1930s, using junkyards to find spare parts.

When World War II arrived, the US military offered these maniacs funding and this strange gang of misfits evolved into the Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL), which manufactured the luinar and Mars landers and Voyager I and 2, and now employs 5,500 scientists on a budget of $1.4 billion.

It was Parsons work that produced stable rocket fuel that made the space age possible. But Parsons was equally interested in inner space and became a leading acolyte of the LA-based Crowley lodge, to whom he donated all his salary. This activism attracted the young pulp writer L. Ron Hubbard into his life, who took off with Jack’s girl and most of his money, supposedly for a business deal that never happened, and went on to found Scientology.

While working at Hughes Aircraft in the 40s, Parsons was stripped of his security clearance and almost prosecuted for passing classified papers to the Israelis, who was he hoping to get a rocketry gig from. He ended up doing small sfx for Hollywood movies and was killed in an explosion in his Pasadena backyard in 1952.

Appropriately, a crater on the darkside of the moon is named after him.

The full story is in a new book ‘Strange Angel: The Otherworldly Life of Rocket Scientist John Whiteside Parsons’ By George Pendle [Orion Books/Harcourt US}

This short account is drawn from Brian Doherty’s review: ‘The Magical Father of American Rocketry’ at Doherty is the author of another interesting book: 'This Is Burning Man'

Also out there is: 'Sex and Rockets: The Occult World of Jack Parsons' by John Carter, with an intro by Robert Anton Wilson.

There is a host of references to Parsons on Google, which contain complete transcripts of his extensive writings on occult matters.

No comments: