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Jack Parsons

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John Whiteside (Jack) Parsons (1914-1952) was a rocket propulsion researcher at the California Institute of Technology and co-founder of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). His research was central to the United States rocket program in the 1930s and '40s, notably in the development of space-capable rocket fuels and the invention of JATO units for aircraft.

He is less well known than Wernher von Braun or Theodore von Karman in the rocket program and the origins of JPL. Nonetheless, von Braun remarked that Parsons, and not he, should be regarded as the father of the American space program.

Parsons was also an avid practitioner of the magical arts, and a follower of Thelema. He was chosen by Aleister Crowley to lead the Thelemic movement in California in 1941. He was also the sometime magical partner of L. Ron Hubbard. The two participated in a ritual known as the Babalon Working. This relationship lasted until 1947, when Hubbard defrauded Parsons of a sum of money (and ran off with his wife).

Jack Parsons died in 1952 in a laboratory explosion which is generally regarded as accidental.

A crater on the far side of the Moon has been named after him.


He is the author of Freedom Is a Two Edged Sword (, a collection of essays regarding freedom, magick, the Gnostic Creed, witchcraft, Babalon, and other subjects.

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