The Frank J. Malina Timeline

  • Frank Joseph Malina was born on 2nd October 1912 in Brenham, Texas.

  • 1920
  • In 1920 when Malina was seven years old, his father took the family back to Czechoslovakia, which had been made a republic after the first world war, and stayed on in Moravia for five years.

  • 1925
  • He returned to the USA in 1925.

  • 1930
  • In 1930 he entered Texas Agricultural and Mechanical College, a Military Boarding School about 50 miles from Brenham.

  • 1934
  • He won his first degree, a B.S., in 1934, and gained a scholarship for Graduate Studies at the California Institute of   Technology at Pasadena.

  • 1935
  • Malina then became a student at the California Institute of Technology. Then after earning M.S. (M.E.) and M.S. (A.E.) degrees, in 1935 and 1936 he became a co-founder of the GALCIT Rocket Research Project, which focused on rocket propulsion. Based on his findings the first U.S. jet-propelled guided missile was produced.

  • 1936
  • He met Théodore von Karmán, the eminent aeronautics theoretician, in 1936 at the Institut. He was asked to prepare the illustrations for the Karmán-Biot book Mathematical Methods in Engineering .

  • 1939
  • In 1939 the French "Prix d'Astronautique" (prix REP-Hirsch) was awarded to Malina.

  • 1940
  • With von Kármán, Malina developed the theory of constant-thrust long-duration solid-fuel rocket motors in 1940. And later that year he received his Ph.D. degree in Aeronautics in Pasadena.

  • 1942
  • Under Malina's direction, researchers also developed and patented a hydrazine-nitric acid fuel. This mixture was later used to propel the engines for the Apollo Service and Lunar Excursion Modules. Malina, von Kármán, Jack Parsons, Ed Forman, Martin Summerfield and Andrew Haley founded the Aerojet Engineering Corporation in 1942.

  • 1945
  • After considerable research on long-range jet-propelled missiles Malina conceived and directed the design, construction and testing of the U.S.A.'s first successful high-altitude sounding rocket, the WAC CORPORAL in 1945.

  • 1946
  • Malina co-invented more specific applications such as spontaneously igniting liquid propellants for rocket engines (a safety device for solid propellant rocket motors) and improvements in methods of applying rocket propulsion to flying boats. He discovered, together with M. Summerfield, criteria for step-rockets that gave an entirely new impulse towards a solution of the problem of escape from the earth by rocket in 1946.

  • 1947
  • In 1947 Malina joined UNESCO. After a visit to Albert Einstein at Princeton on 2nd of April 1947 Malina wrote: "One of my first projects will be to break down the frontiers between countries to facilitate the movement of scientists and their equipment."

  • 1949
  • In 1949 Frank married Marjorie Duckworth, who was also employed at UNESCO.

  • 1960
  • In 1960, he proposed to the International Academy of Astronautics at Stockholm that a committee be established to prepare for creation of a manned research laboratory on the moon for the use of all nations. He was chairman of this committee, which was known as the Lunar International Laboratory Committee or the LIL Committee.

  • 1967
  • Malina founded Leonardo, a magazine of the contemporary arts, in 1967-1968 and acted as editor. It was originally published by Pergamon Press in the UK (through 1993).

  • 1968
  • Malina continued producing artwork and editing Leonardo until his death in 1981.

  • 1981
  • Following Frank Malina's death in 1981, Leonardo was moved to California by his son, Roger F. Malina, then an astronomer at the University of California at Berkeley.

  • 1982
  • With the support of founding board members Frank Oppenheimer and Robert Maxwell, the International Society for the Arts, Sciences and Technology (Leonardo/ISAST) was formed in 1982. Leonardo/ISAST was created to address the rapidly expanding needs of the art, science and technology community, by participation in conferences, symposia, festivals, lecture series and awards programs. The journal is now published by MIT press.


    Timeline from 1936-1963 is a synopsis of Frank Popper's "Frank MALINA, Artist and Scientist : Works from 1936 to 1963" (© Copyright Frank Popper, published in the year 2000) on the OLATS website, visit

    Additional information was found at

    Research and compilation of this web page by Xavier Malina.

    Links to other Web pages about Frank Malina :


    Originally created 23 July 2004

    Updated 7 March 2012