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American Interplanetary Society (AIS),

American Rocket Society (ARS),

Institute of Aeronautical Sciences (IAS),

Institute of Aerospace Sciences (IAS),


American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA)

From Mike Gruntman's Blazing the Trail. The Early History of Spacecraft and Rocketry (p. 132)


In 1930, a group of space flight enthusiasts used to gather at the apartment of the New York Herald Tribune reporter G. Edward Pendray. David Lasser, an editor of science fiction publications, was the heart of the group. An excellent speakeasy operated at the basement of the apartment building, helping to keep the spirit of the discussions high.

On an evening of 4 April 1930, 12 enthusiasts established the American Interplanetary Society. In addition to Lasser and Pendray, the Society’s first president and vice president, the founding members included Mrs. Pendray, Charles W. Van Devander, Adolf L. Fierst, Warren Fitzgerald, William Lemkin, Everett Long, Laurence E. Manning, Charles P. Manson, Fletcher Pratt, and Nathan Schachner.

Most of the founders were of a literary, nontechnical type: journalists and writers interested in science fiction. Lemkin was the only Ph.D. in the group. The society was successfully "launched" and soon had more than 100 members, including the growing number of scientists and engineers. These technically oriented members, H. Franklin Pierce, Bernard Smith, John Shesta, Lovell Lawrence, Alfred Africano, Roy Healy, James Wyld, and others, initiated and led an energetic experimental program and began to dominate the group. Robert Goddard also joined the society at this time.

Sputnik    Explorer    Vanguard    Astronautics    Missile defense    Baikonur Tyuratam    Saryshagan    Rocket equation

The society was renamed the American Rocket Society (ARS) in 1934. World War II led to the explosive growth of rocket development in the United States. ARS was mostly an East Coast group, while new rocket centers were emerging in the West. At first, the establishing of an independent professional rocket society on the West Coast was considered. This idea was finally abandoned, and the "Westerners" began joining ARS. The Society's periodical publication, Astronautics. Journal of the American Rocket Society, played an important role in information exchange among the rocketeers.

The Institute of Aeronautical Sciences (IAS) was organized in 1932 "to promote the application of science in the development of aircraft." The Institute became the main American scientific and engineering society in the field of aeronautics. Many leading scientists, engineers, and aircraft and aircraft subsystem designers joined IAS, which had 408 and 655 members on 1 January of 1933 and 1934, respectively. The members of the Institute of Aeronautical Sciences included such well-known airplane designers and specialists in aeronautics as Joseph S. Ames, Lyman J. Briggs, Charles Lawrance, James H. Doolittle, Donald W. Douglas, Hugh L. Dryden, Jerome C. Hunsaker, Alexander Klemin, Glenn L. Martin, Lessiter C. Milburn, Clark B. Millikan, John K. Northrop, Igor I. Sikorsky, Theodore von Kármán, Albert F. Zahm, and many others. A large number of foreign scientists and engineers were also registered as Institute members.

IAS was renamed to the Institute of Aerospace Sciences in 1960, reflecting the rapidly growing importance of research and development in the emerging rocket-related areas, beyond the traditional realm of aeronautics.

On 1 February 1963, ARS merged with IAS to form the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). At that time, ARS had more than 20,000 members – a spectacular transformation of an original group of a dozen spaceflight dreamers in New York. Today [in 2004] AIAA is the world's largest professional society of aerospace scientists and engineers with more than 31,000 members.

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