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.
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.