Skip to main content

rocket propulsion

James Hart Wyld
Society: AIAAMain Category: Aerospace & AviationSub Category: Frontiers of KnowledgeEra: 1930sDateCreated: 1930sDenvilleState: NJCountry: USAWebsite: Wyld, James Hart, Lovell Lawrence, Pendray, George Edward, Pierce, Hugh, Shesta, John

The first company in the United States dedicated solely to the production of the liquid rocket engine, Reaction Motors, Inc. (RMI) was formed in 1941.  Its four founders were rocket enthusiasts and members of the American Rocket Society. RMI developed the rocket motors that powered the first supersonic flight, that of the X-1; the retro rockets for five NASA surveyor lunar soft landers; and prepackaged liquid rocket engines for the U.S. Navy Bullpup A & B air to ground missiles, among many other pioneering programs.

Image Credit: Courtesy Smithsonian InstitutionImage Caption: James Wyld, one of the RMI founders, holding a rocket motor at an ARS test in Midvale, New Jersey, 1941.
First Aerojet Manufacturing Site
Main Category: Aerospace & AviationSub Category: AerospaceEra: 1940-1949285 W Colorado BlvdPasadenaState: CAZip: 91105Country: USAWebsite: Von Karman, Theodore

On Colorado Blvd in Pasadena in 1942, the Aerojet Engineering Company founded the first manufacturing facility for the production of rocket propulsion systems. This site was selected to be honored by AIAA because of its significance as one of the first production sites for rocket motors, laying part of the foundation for the rocket business. Production was done under the leadership of Aerojet's first president, Dr. Theodore von Karman, world-renowned scientist and engineer from the California Institute of Technology. The plant remained here until 1945.

Image Caption: The original Aerojet manufacturing facility no longer exists. Early rockets produced by Aerojet included the Aerobee Hi rocket, flown in 1946 to an altitude of 37 miles. It is on display and test fired the first complete Aerobee from the White Sands Proving Grounds in New Mexico in 1947. It reached an altitude of 34.7 miles.
Subscribe to rocket propulsion

We hope you enjoyed this essay.

Please support this 70-year tradition of trusted historical writing and the volunteers that sustain it with a donation to American Heritage.


Stay informed - subscribe to our newsletter.
The subscriber's email address.