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Forman, Edward S
Early American rocket pioneer; co-founder of Aerojet

Born: 1912-12-03. Died: 1973-02-12. Birth Place: Chicago, Illinois.

Ed Forman, the son of an electric engineer, spent his teenage years in Pasadena, where he met Jack Parsons. They shared a passion for science fiction and space travel, and were anxious not to just read about it, but to get on with it. They began experiments with chemical explosives in the Arroyo Seco behind Parsons' house. He and Parsons wrote to other rocket experimenters around the world asking for information. Finally they linked up with Frank Malina, a student at Caltech with an equal passion for rocketry and space travel. Professor Theodor von Karman took an interest in the group's progress, and obtained facilities and modest funding for their experiments. Malina, and later Martin Summerfield, provided the scientific and mathematical basis for the work, while Parsons and Forman were the hands-on guys, Parsons in chemistry, and Forman in machinery. In 1943 Forman became one of the five founders of Aerojet, a company devoted to commercializing the rocket technology they were developing.

Forman was the only one of the founders with sufficient faith in the new organization to sever his ties with Caltech and become the Production Manager at Aerojet from the very start. His skills as a machinist were taxed by wartime shortages of materials and machinery. Forman was responsible for finding or purchasing or making the necessary fabricated parts for Aerojet's rockets, and for assembling them into working rocket engines.

Forman's passion for speed extended to the earth - he rode the fastest possible motorcycle, leading to frequent accidents. In 1944 Aerojet was taken over by General Tire. The new industrial managers muscled out the original founders. Forman tried several business ventures, none of the successful, and then moved to San Mateo to work for Lockheed for the rest of his life. and continued his successful aerospace career with Lockheed, contributing fundamentally to their Polaris and Poseidon sea-launched ballistic missile programs.

Country: USA. Bibliography: 4475, 480.

1912 December 3 - .
1973 February 12 - .

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