William McLaughlin is a retired space scientist, formerly of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. After being award his Ph.D. in mathematics at the University of California at Berkeley in 1968 (with a thesis on celestial mechanics), he worked at Bellcomm, Inc. in Washington D.C. on the Apollo lunar landing program. In 1971 he joined the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where he remained until his retirement in 1999. He participated in a number of projects, including Viking, SEASAT, and the Infrared Astronomical Satellite (IRAS). He served as the JPL deputy directory of astrophysics, the manager of the Voyager 2 flight engineering office during the spacecraft's encounter with Uranus, and manager of the Mission Profiling and Sequencing Section.
He received the NASA Exceptional Service Medal in 1984 for his work on the IRAS and the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal for his work on the Voyager encounter with Uranus. Asteroid 4838 Billmclaughlin is named after him.
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