Malina was awarded the Order of Merit from the French Society for the Encouragement of Research and Invention. Image Credit: NASA
From an early age Frank J Malina was driven by the pursuit of knowledge in the face of adversity. Born in 1912 in Brenham, Texas, Malina’s interest in the world of science led him to a degree in mechanical engineering from Texas Agricultural and Mechanical University. But what really piqued his interest was space travel and rockets, something that was scoffed at in the 1930s as belonging to the realm of science fiction.
Regardless of the critics, Malina followed his dreams and achieved a PhD in Aeronautics at the California Institute of Technology, focussing on rocket flight and propulsion. However, this did not come easily and Malina had to use all his intelligence and skill to persuade Theodore von Kármán, the professor of Aeronautics, to allow him to focus on such outlandish areas of study. The main focus of Malina’s study was to produce a sounding rocket, one that carries instruments to space in order to conduct different scientific experiments.
Malina’s pursuit of knowledge and drive to succeed soon attracted a group of like-minded students. The group of six ...