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The jet propulsion laboratory was not named the rocket laboratory because the word rocket was not taken seriously. the word rocket was perceived as one of science fiction. in the 1930’s, piercing an object into space and later adding rockets to a plane were ideas of mad scientist’s imaginations.
vannevar bush of mit was quoted as saying, “ i don’t understand how a serious scientist or engineer can play around with rockets.”
the jet propulsion laboratory is now a federally funded research center for nasa and managed by caltech university in pasadena, california. it all started in the mid-1930’s and gained funding and progress in their experiments just in time for world war ii when planes would need to accelerate faster for takeoff in a shorter span on aircraft carrier warships. no longer scoffed at the jpl worked on classified experiments for the us government.
the word rocket was taboo. when naming the laboratory, jet propulsion was much more acceptable. along with naming the rockets used to strap on planes, the team decided on jato meaning “jet-assisted takeoff.” men and women both were involved in growing this technology that to many was absurd and to be kept in far-off works of science fiction. ironically in today’s idiom we hear the phrase, “it’s not like it’s rocket science.” 🚀
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