- Paperback: 325 pages
- Publisher: Prometheus Books; 1St Edition edition (July 9, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1616147393
- ISBN-13: 978-1616147396
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (133 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #75,789 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Rocket Girl: The Story of Mary Sherman Morgan, America's First Female Rocket Scientist 1St Edition Edition
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
Curated Collections of History Books
Browse through handpicked collections of rare, vintage and antiquarian history books. Learn more on AbeBooks.com.
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Rocket Girl is an intriguing biography of a woman who kept many secrets, the least of which was her part in crafting the rocket-fuel recipe for the satellite Explorer 1. She had a bitter and brutal childhood, put a child up for adoption, and was unpaid for many years for the dangerous work she did in a male-dominated field. Most of all, as her son, author Morgan, recalls, there was something not quite right about her. Call it depression or OCD or just years of suppressed emotion, but Mary Sherman Morgan was not a happy woman. Determined to explore her complicated past, Morgan first wrote a play and then, delving into more detail, this portrait. The narrative is a bit unwieldy in its jumping back and forth in time and in Morgan’s attempts to enter the minds of Wernher von Braun and Sergei Korolev, and many questions remain unanswered. Still, the personal story and family detective work are truly gripping, and Mary, in all her contradictions, emerges as a fascinating subject. --Colleen Mondor
"A dramatic, suspenseful tale."
“Illuminates the exploits of an unsung heroine of the space age.”
—Preston Lerner, author and journalist
“A beautiful story well told. Mary Sherman Morgan, a woman who toiled in obscurity and liked it that way, rises from a dirt-poor and abusive childhood to break the gender barrier in rocket engineering. She goes on to solve the last remaining problem keeping America from the stars. Mary’s contribution... would have forever vanished were it not for this book. An inspiration for women—and men—everywhere.”
—Rod L. Pyle, Author of Destination Mars
“This portrait of a mother shrouded in mystery and largely forgotten by the field she pioneered is a compelling read.”
“An intriguing biography.... The personal story and family detective work are truly gripping, and Mary, in all her contradictions, emerges as a fascinating subject.”
“An accessible and enjoyable read.... [It reminds] us of the need to adequately record and credit the contributions of women scientists, like Morgan, to obtain the fullest account in our history-of-science collections. Recommended.”
“A sweeping yet intensely personal book.... [It] takes us from the windswept prairies of North Dakota, where Mary Sherman was born, to the equally windswept steppes of Kazakhstan from which Sergei Korolev would launch Sputnik..., putting the United States on a crash course to catch up. [The] race between Korolev and his American rival, ex-Nazi rocketeer Wernher von Braun is deftly interwoven with the daily lives of the unknown engineers [like Mary] who made it possible.”
—Douglas L. Smith, legacy content producer, California Institute of Technology
“An interesting book that sheds light on a little-known person who played a key role in the early days of the space age, one that should be more prominent given how few women were involved in aerospace at the time.”
—The Space Review
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Top Customer Reviews
“It gets you bupkiss!” The general’s face was getting red. It was not a good sign. “If we launched the Redstone today it would keel over at a very high altitude and splash down somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean. A pile of worthless sheet metal. That’s what 93.1 percent gets you. Understand?”
Occurring in the mid-1950’s, this exchange initiated a sequence of events leading to the development of Hydyne, a fuel mixture that allowed the Redstone (aka Jupiter-C) to launch America’s first satellite. Hydyne was invented by the subject of this book, Mary Sherman Morgan, as related by her son, playwright, George D. Morgan, in his book, Rocket Girl
Born and raised on a hardscrabble farm in North Dakota, Mary Sherman Morgan, did not start school until she was eight years old and despite a lack of encouragement by her family, she succeeded, graduating as Valedictorian of her class. In the early 1940’s, Mary left home at age nineteen to attend a small college in northwestern Ohio where she excelled in Mathematics and Chemistry. However, for economic reasons she was forced to drop out after two years and as this was during World War Two, she took a job as a chemist in a defense plant manufacturing ordnance. After the war, the demand for ordnance disappeared as did her job. Taking a long shot, she applied for a job as an analyst in the engineering department at North American Aviation in southern California. Despite her lack of an engineering degree, the glowing recommendations from her previous employer got her the job: the only woman in a 900 man engineering department.
Mary excelled at her job, applying her keen mind to the complex problems presented by designing rockets and developing the fuels for them. Eventually she emerged as the “go to person” in the department for insoluble problems. This reputation for solving tough problems led directly to her receiving the assignment to develop a more powerful fuel for the Redstone. The book details the problem and the process Mary used to solve it.
Character sketches of German-American rocket scientist Wernher von Braun and of Soviet rocket scientist Sergei Korolev help provide historical context for this biography. At several points in the narrative about Mary, the writer cuts away to tell us what von Braun or Korolev were doing in their respective careers at that time. These multiple story lines eventually converge on the same goal: putting the first artificial satellite into Earth orbit. This is a useful device in that it starkly contrasts these three historical characters. First there is the world famous Wernher von Braun who promoted space flight (and himself) at every opportunity. Next there is Korolev whose existence and identity were kept a state secret until his death in 1966, after which the many achievements of the Soviet “Chief Designer” eventually became known. Finally there is Mary Sherman Morgan whose anonymity, while normal in the top secret culture of the aerospace industry, was also self enforced. She never told her family that she invented Hydyne even long after the fuel ceased to be a secret. To compound her own silence, the author was unable to get anyone at Rocketdyne (formerly North American Aviation) to communicate regarding the development of Hydyne. Instead, George D. Morgan researched this biography with numerous interviews of his mother’s now retired fellow engineers, family and acquaintances.
Published in 2013 by Prometheus Books, the story of Mary Sherman Morgan was first told in stage play format at Cal Tech, where Mr. Morgan is the Playwright in Residence. In this narrative, like the playwright that he is, Morgan fleshes out the skeleton of history with attributions of thoughts and emotions to the characters in the biography that he feels are likely and consistent with their actions. For this reason, some critics have described Rocket Girl as a fictionalized biography. In my view, this aspect of the biography in no way detracts from the story and merely makes it more readable than a simple, dry accounting of the verifiable events. This is an excellent book about a very interesting period in the history of space flight and it is well worth your time. Mr. Morgan will be a guest on my weekly podcast, Mars Pirate Radio, in early October at which time we will discuss this fine book at length.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Not the easier readRead more