Howard works with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) on both International Space Station and interplanetary space probe projects. JPL was only shown by means of the Mars Rover Lab in "The Lizard-Spock Expansion" (see Mars Exploration Program), and only directly mentioned in "The Robotic Manipulation" (NASA thought the Wolowitz Programmable Hand was in a secure locker at JPL).
JPL is a federally funded research and development center located in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County. The facility is headquartered in the city of Pasadena, California on the border of Flintridge. It is managed by the nearby California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The Laboratory's primary function is the construction and operation of robotic planetary spacecraft, though it also conducts Earth-orbit and astronomy missions. It is also responsible for operating NASA's Deep Space (communications) Network.JPL traces its beginnings to 1936 in the Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratory at Caltech when the first set of rocket experiments were carried out.
In 1941, Malina, Parsons, Forman, and pilot Homer Bushey demonstrated the first rockets to the Army. In 1943, von Kármán, Malina, Parsons, and Forman established the Aerojet Corporation to manufacture JATO motors. The project took on the name Jet Propulsion Laboratory in November 1943 formally becoming an Army facility operated under contract by the university.
During JPL's Army years, the Laboratory developed two deployed weapon systems, the MGM-5 Corporal and MGM-29 Sergeant intermediate range ballistic missiles. These missiles were the first US ballistic missiles developed at JPL. It also developed a number of other weapons system prototypes, such as the Loki anti-aircraft missile system, and the forerunner of the Aerobee sounding rocket. At various times, it carried out rocket testing at the a lunar lander was also developed in 1938-39 which influenced design of the Apollo program.
In 1954, JPL teamed up with Wernher von Braun’s German rocketeers at the Army Ballistic Missile Agency’s Redstone Arsenal] in Huntsville, Alabama], to propose orbiting a satellite during the International Geophysical Year. The team lost that proposal to the Navy's Project Vanguard proposal, however they did participate in the launching of American's first satellite Explorer I on February 1, 1958 after the failure of the former.
There are approximately 5,000 full-time Caltech employees, and typically a few thousand additional contractors working on any given day.JCPL projects included the following programs: Explorer, Ranger, Surveyor, Mariner, Pioneer, Viking, Voyager, Magellan probe, Galileo probe, Mars Global Surveyor, Mars Climate Orbiter, Cassini–Huygens Probe, Stardust spacecraft, Mars Odyssey, Mars Pathfinder, Mars Exploration Rover Mission and the Spitzer Space Telescope.