Stine, G. Harry

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Stine, G. Harry

American Engineer and Writer 1928-1997

Engineer, author, visionary, and hobbyist extraordinaire, G. Harry Stine is best known as the father of model rocketry for his efforts to bring science and safety to the building and launching of model rockets. Working as an engineer at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico when Sputnik was launched in 1957, Stine watched with dismay as enterprising hobbyists, in the grip of rocket fever, were injured or killed trying to launch their models. He consequently developed and published safety standards for model rocketeers, and founded the National Association of Rocketry in 1958. He also started the first model rocket company, Model Missiles, Inc., around this time. His Handbook of Model Rocketry, first published in 1965, remains the bible of rocket enthusiasts to this day.

As a visionary and advocate for inexpensive exploration and colonization of space, Stine was a proponent of single-stage-to-orbit vehicles, which are inexpensive, reusable, single-stage spacecraft that require no major refurbishing between missions. The multistage spacecraft used up until the present, like the space shuttle,jettison the spent fuel tanks during flight, and require expensive replacement and repair before taking off again.

As a member of the Citizens' Advisory Council on National Space Policy, Stine contributed to the design of the McDonnell Douglas Delta Clipper Experimental craft, or DC-X, which had a successful test flight on August 18, 1993, at the White Sands Missile Range. The DC-X lifted off under rocket power, hovered at 46 meters (150 feet), then made a soft landing in its upright position with rockets thrusting. Stine predicted that such a single-stage, reusable spacecraft could reduce the cost of lifting a payload into space from $10,000 per pound to $1,000, making space industry and tourism an economic possibility.

A prolific author, Stine wrote numerous nonfiction books, beginning with Earth Satellites and the Race for Space Superiority in 1957, and including Halfway to Anywhere in 1996 and Living in Space in 1997. From 1979 until his death in November 1997, he wrote a regular column on space issues called "The Alternate View" for Analog Science Fiction and Fact magazine, commenting on everything from the Moon Treaty to polluting the universe. He also wrote many science fiction novels and short stories, sometimes using the pseudonym Lee Correy.

see also Launch Vehicles, Expendable (volume 1); Reusable Launch Vehicles (volume 4); Rockets (volume 3).

Tim Palucka


Stine, G. Harry. Handbook of Model Rocketry, 6th ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons,1994.