Laurence E. Manning

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Laurence Manning

Laurence Edward Manning (ca. 1935)
Birth Name Laurence Edward Manning
Birth Date Jul 20 1899
Birth Place St Johns New Brunswick Canada
Date of Death Apr 10 1972
Place of Death Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey, USA
Occupation Engineer, Author, Horticulturist
Nationality Canada, United States of America
Notable Works Co-founder, American Rocket Society

Laurence E. Manning was born in New Brunswick and had served around the end of World War I as a second lieutenant in the as-yet not fully fledged Canadian Air Force. He signed up as an aviator cadet in Halifax Nova Scotia on May 14th 1918. It is not known if he ever made it to the conflict in Europe.

In the late 1920s he grew interested in science fiction and began a part-time career as a writer of short stories. His fiction appeared in Wonder Stories, one of the all-science fiction magazines published in New York by Hugo Gernsback. On April 4th 1930 Manning was invited to the first meeting of what would become the American Interplanetary Society; a fore-runner of today's American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and the spawning ground for one of America's preeminent rocket manufacturers, Reaction Motors Inc.

Also on hand, for that evening of discussion on West 22nd street in New York, were Charles P. Mason, Adolph L. Fierst, Nathan Schachner, Warren Fitzgerald, Fletcher Pratt, William Lemkin, David Lasser, Charles W. van Devander, and the hosts for the evening G. Edward Pendray and his wife Lee Gregory Pendray. Almost all of this small group would write science fiction for Gernsback, but they would soon turn their hands to more practical work; the construction of liquid fuelled rockets.

In April 1933 Manning became President of the AIS and was involved in the implementation of regenerative cooling on their early engines. A month into his presidency he constructed their launching stand at his house on Staten Island and acquired a launch site nearby for the group to use. He also presided the following spring when the AIS changed its name to the American Rocket Society (ARS).

All through 1934 he was part of a committee which included John Shesta, Carl Ahrens and Alfred Best for Experimental Rocket #4 which subsequently became the first "really successful launch" of a liquid fuelled rocket by the ARS.

Manning was a keen horticulturalist and was Vice President of the Kelsey Nursery Service of New York.

Manning was later made a Fellow of the AIAA.

Timeline of Manning at the American Interplanetary Socety

  • May 23 1930 Manning delivers paper "Getting Away from the Earth"
  • October 1930 Manning delivers paper "Some Speculations about Landing a Space Ship"
  • Nov 21 1930 Manning delivers paper "The Mechanics of Rocket Flight" explaning Oberth's designs
  • March 1931 Manning becomes Treasurer of AIS.
  • June 1932 Announces he is going to conduct biological experiments with Konrad Schmidt of the Rockefeller Institute; animals at low pressure
  • August 1932 Worked in the field with Lasser, Lemkin, Schachner, Africano, Pierce, Gregory, Best
  • Spring 1933 Manning obtains permit to use Marine Park in Staten Island for launches, designs and builds test stand with Alfred Best at Manning's house.
  • April 13 1933 Becomes President of AIS presides over name change to ARS
  • May 14 1933 Is the timing operator for ARS firing #2
  • October 1933 Manning, Ahrens, Best and Shesta design and build AIS rocket #4, one of three teams working on rockets.
  • March 1934 AIS #4 almost completed with multi-nozzle tandem tank and autogyro landing, Manning makes appeal to members to keep funds coming for rocket development
  • Jun 10 1934 AIS rocket #4 finished first out of three being designed. Is tested and needs modifications, is the first use of the AIS new launching rack.
  • Sept 9 1934 AIS Rocket #4 takes flight at 600mph called "one of the most successful and spectacular shots ever obtained with a liquid fuel rocket". Manning is timing man.
  • April 1935 Manning reelected to Board
  • Sept 12 1937 Manning present for rocket test in Pawling NY
  • April 1938 Manning Associate Editor of Astronautics, writes editorial about solving rocket problem
  • July 1938 ARS Office moves to Manning's location on Church Street in New York.