Pioneering American Rocketry: The Reaction Motors, Inc.

Author:Mongeon, Al
Position:RMI - Book review

Pioneering American Rocketry: The Reaction Motors, Inc. (RMI) Story, 1941-1972. By Frank H. Winter and Frederick I. Ordway, III, eds.. San Diego: Univelt, 2015. Diagrams. Photographs. Notes. Appendices. Index. Pp. xiii, 462. $95.00 hardcover, $75.00 paperback ISBN: 978-0-87703-619-7 and 978-087703-620-3 respectively

This book is Volume 44 of the American Astronautical Society History Series. It is the life history of a small, but significant, contributor and innovator to the success of American rocketry from the earliest days to the Moon lander. RMI, later Reaction Motors Division after acquisition by Thiokol, powered the earliest X-planes, including the X-1, D-558-2, and the X-15; provided the vernier and attitude motors for the lunar lander; and propelled the MX-774 rocket, the progenitor of the Atlas missile. This is the story of a small band of pioneers, largely laboring in the shadow of luminaries such as Werner von Braun, who achieved significant advances in American rocketry.

With the exception of the first chapter, the book is a compilation of papers presented to the International Academy of Astronautics. The introduction, in addition to acknowledgments, presents brief biographies of the founders of RMI. Chapter 1 sets the historical context and examines the roots of RMI in a largely rural area of New Jersey. The remaining seven chapters are edited papers prepared and presented by several of the founders of RMI and follow the development of RMI until acquisition by Thiokol as Reaction Motors Division (RMD) and the eventual dissolution of the division in 1972.

Winter and Ordway did an...

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