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The Original Rocket Man Dr. Pickering Statue for NASA

Dr.William H. Pickering also known to many as "Mr. JPL," or as the original "Rocket Man," and later as Sir William Pickering when in 1976, received an honorary knighthood (KBE) from the Queen of England. Dr. Pickering was famous for his development of the US ballistic missile system and space exploration propulsion systems for NASA.

We had the honor of making a statue of the Rocket Man, Dr. Pickering for NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) which we were asked to make this statue of the rocket man holding a rocket raised high above his head as in the published picture of him and his team of scientists holding the rocket above their heads. This team which included the director of JPL Dr. William H. Pickering, Dr. James A. van Allen and Dr. Wernher von Braun were responsible for the success of Explorer 1, America's first Earth satellite, launched January 31, 1958.

This unique creation of a life like bronze statue of Dr. William H. Pickering of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory holding a rocket over his head began with graphic renderings, pictures and descriptions based on the concepts envisioned by Harold Oaks and the committee at JPL and NASA in charge of the statue project. This project required many steps including a detailed 30 inch tall maquette, or model of the monument statue.

Our sculptor Karoy started this project by undertaking the detailing of the statue sculpted first in clay where he breathed life into this lifeless 3 dimensional form. It took special skill and talent for the artist to bring out a personality and inner psychology from the piece and give the Dr.William H. Pickering statue a life of its own as only our sculptors can do.

Sculpture works from Statue Sculptures are most often appreciated for our ability to capture the essence of a subject and raise it above a mere three-dimensional rendition to a classic work of art that transmits its magic and power to the viewer generations after it was created. The emotion and history behind a sculpture is important especially for a man such as Dr, Pickering who helped leap the United States into the age of space exploration.

Our staff of talented sculptors have a gift when it comes to understanding a client’s vision for a statue like the one we made for Dr.Pickering for NASA and JPL We worked with the staff at (JPL) Jet Propulsion Laboratory to capture their vision for the Dr. Pickering statue and strived to capture his emotion, passion and essence in this famous statue which is a one of a kind piece of art that will last through the ages.

A very accomplished brilliant man, Dr.Pickering obtained his bachelors and masters degrees in electrical engineering, then a Ph.D. in physics from Cal tech before becoming a professor of electrical engineering there in 1946.Earlyer in 1944, he organized the electronics efforts at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is where Dr.Pickering did rocket and missile development and space exploration design and development for the National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA) where he organized the electronics efforts at (JPL) to support guided missile research and development, becoming project manager for Corporal, the first operational missile JPL developed. From 1954 to 1976 he was director of JPL where he was in charge of the unmanned space exploration projects of the moon, planets and beyond our solar system. Some of the projects developed by Dr. Pickering included the first U.S. satellite (Explorer I), the first successful U.S. circumlunar space probe (Pioneer IV), the Mariner flights to Venus and Mars in the early to mid-1960s, the Ranger photographic missions to the moon in 1964-65, and the Surveyor lunar landings of 1966-67.

More than any other individual, Dr. Bill Pickering was responsible for America's success in exploring the planets an endeavor that demanded vision, courage, dedication, expertise and the ability to inspire two generations of scientists and engineers at the NASA (JPL) Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

A U.S. citizen for most of his life, Dr. Pickering retained close ties to his New Zealand homeland where he was born on December 24, 1910 in Wellington, New Zealand. He received numerous honors in his lifetime including personal messages from five U.S. presidents. In 1975, Pickering was awarded the National Medal of Science by President Gerald R. Ford, and in 1994, he was given the Japan Prize by the Emperor Akihito.NASA, JPL, Cal tech and the world lost the Rocket Man as Dr.William H. Pickering passed on at the age of 93 in La Cañada Flintridge, California on March 15, 2004. Asteroid 5738 Billpickering and Pickering Crater on Mars are named in his honor.

William Pickering quote:

"It was only the beeping reality of Sputnik that suddenly made the threat of intercontinental atomic warfare with ballistic rockets more than a science fiction story."

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