I used the wrong word, how Take a shot at G.Harry? We got Chuck Piper over
on ROL taking another shot at G.harry and estes over of all things the
safety or non-safety of Zinc/Sulfur as a motor propellant.
Back in 1996 Manual Meija posted a very good article here in RMR (about the
ARS and its role in the so called demonization of AR/EX. What he didn't
write in that article, was that the ARS was orginally founded by AR/EX
people.... who evidently over time chnaged their minds for some reason about
AR/EX...which I allude to economic self-interest... It was the ARS who used
the poor science from the NFPA report that started the whole demonization od
AR/EX: and it apperas that G.Harry and the NAR and Estes were the front men
in this war of words....
Guess who was a member of the Board of Directors of the ARS when this
report/study was done?
none other than Werner Von Braun himself....a former AR/EX'er and Nazi
H.W.Ritchey... Head of Thiokol, a former AR/EX'er with Reaction Motors Inc
and then Thiokol
In fact the original 4 founders of the ARS were ALL hevaily involved in
for a good history of RMI and the ARS:
Guess who actually did the study... representativies from the
JPL/Caltech,General Dynamics,AeroJet-General,Olin-Mathieson were all members
of the SoCAL chapetr of the ARS. Guess who also supplied photos and
information for the report? NASA
when I pointed this out to David Sleeter who has a chapter in his "Amateur
Rocket Motor Construction" book with the the title, "the Attempted
Destruction of Amateur Rocketry", David remarked:
" Wow! The light begins to shine! This is a list of governemnet and
industrial GIANTS, so its clear by 1958, the ARS had NOTHING to do with AR.
THESE are the people who wanted to shut AR down. As a matter of fact, my
late friend,Jim Humphreys,once told me that in the 1950s, when the RRS
started making the newspapers with some of their more successful rocket
launches, the government, concerned the civilian rocketeers might upstage
their OWN budding efforts,ORDERED them to shut down.
When asked for a reason, they were told that their rockets were going "too
high" (Jim's quote). When these pluky young men stood up to the governemnet
and refused, saying (again Jim's quote), "The government doesn't have a
monopoly on brains", they were all asked how old they were. When they all
admitted to being eligible for the drqft,they were told anyone who continued
to work on rockets would be DRAFTED! Faced with this unthinkable
oputcome,they caved in, and submitted (temporarily) to the government's
order. Then as the years passed, and governement policy relaxed,they resumed
So lets take a second or two to analyse and then speculate on the above. It
appears that it was the powerful Military-Industrial complex of the time
that wanted to shutdown the civilian rocketry efforts. I mean can you
imagine the embarassment and the howls of derision that would have followed,
had a bunch of no name "kids" been the first to place a satellite in orbit?
Or launch other rockets into space? Remember what was going on at the time?
The supposed ICBM gap? the X-15 program ..the space race .....etc...
And the military-industrial complex has had a monopoly in the United States
since the beginning up into recently.... when civilians were finally
"allowed" to do civilian space work
The ARS passed this motion in January 1958 as the forward to the ARSreport:
"The American Rocket Society reaffirms its strong stand in opposition to any
amateur experimentation with whatsoever rocket propellants or rocket
propellant materials of any kind"
10/57 Sputnik is launched
10/57 Mechanix Illustrated article about 1st model rockets called
The article begins " Amateur Rocketeers who have been waiting for a chance
to shoot their own rockets skyward may be just a step away from lighting the
11/57 The Model Missile Assn was formed (predecessor to the NAR)
1/58 ARS passes the motion posted above
1/58 150 people meet in Colorado and join the MMA Werner Von Braun was both
an ARS member and NAR member (I don't know if G.Harry was an ARS member, but
I suspect he may have been)
4/58 American Modeler magazine article about model rockets by G.harry Stine
Has extensive anti-AR propaganda in article
5/58 American Modeler magazine article about MMI Model Missles,INc, the
worlds 1st Model Rocket Company
comment: can you say economic self-interest ?
9/58 Positive review of Rock a chutes in AM magazine
10/58 MMA becomes NAR.. G.Harry Stine is 1st president
11/58 The ARS report/study is done based on NFPA data from early 1958
12/58 Another positive article about Model Rocketry by G.Harry Stine
1958 RMI merges with THiokol Chemical (Reaction Motors Inc... did extensive
liquid fuel AR/EX work)
1959 the ARS report is published:
Amateur Rocketry: A delineation of the Problem,a Policy Statement, and a
Program of Action for the American Rocket Society
the 1996 post:
There homemade model rocket engine issue has been with this hobby since
its founding in 1957. In researching model rocketry's early history,
I came upon an old series of articles that were published by the American
Rocket Society, forerunner to the American Institute of Aeronautics and
Astronautics. Around the time of the launching of Sputnik 1, ARS was
studying the issue whether to allow individual members to sponsor clubs
that would allow youngsters to build homemade rocket motors out of
compounds such as Zinc and sulfur. The ARS along with a number of other
agencies were trying to stem the growing tide of unsupervised basement
bombing that was going on around the country.
The idea was as follows:
A. All non-professional rocketry activities would be done in centralized
locations that would be some distance away from populated areas. By doing
this, the inherent risk that this activity would pose to non-participants
would be minimized. Such locations would be properly equipped with
features such as blockhouses and sandbag trenches for observers.
B. All youngsters participating in the rocketry program would build their
project rockets while being supervised by either a military or civilian
expert on rockets.
Many of the ARS membership were scientists, engineers, and military men
who possessed the such knowledge. On paper, the idea was quite sound.
In practice, problems quickly surfaced. The problems were as follows:
A. While the ARS did have a number of members with experience in rockets,
only a handful had the knowledge needed to deal with custom made rocket
B. When a few novice rocketeers were looking over the remains of a failed
experiment, they demonstrated to the ARS personnel that they had no idea
of what went wrong and that they were unable to learn form their
By 1959, the ARS had given up on the supervised rocketry program and
urged all participants to not persue such projects. There was alsl an
unwillingness by the Department of Defense to spend it resources on
superivise youth related "rocketry camps". Fortunately for us, Harry
Stine, Vern Estes, and others came on the scene and provided a product
that effectly solved the basement bombing problem.
The findings of the late 1950s ARS report are still as valid today as
they were then. While there are some rocketry enthusiests who do possess
the knowledge to build home made rocket motors and supervise the
activities of those who do not, the bulk of the community, myself
included, does not have a clue as to how to do this sort of work safely.
There are still rocketeers out there who, after several trys, cannot
properly assemble a reloadable motor stack ! Before NAR or any other
rocketry organization gets into sanctioned home made rocket building, the
level of ignorance has to be greatly reduced.