Mary Sherman Morgan: America's First Female Rocket Scientist

Joseph Porath

March 08, 2017

  • Share:    
(what's a "Modern Worthy"? click here to find out!)

During the Space Race, the US had a weight problem. It wanted to launch rockets into space, but their fuel just wasn't efficient enough. Toss in enough fuel to lift the rest of the rocket, and you wouldn't be able to lift all the heavy rocket fuel. With the Soviets having just launched Sputnik into space, what was the US to do?

Enter Mary Sherman Morgan.

She was an unlikely hero for the US Space program. She had no college education. She'd had a child out of wedlock (in the 40s!). But she was great at what she did - which was making explosives. Soon thereafter, she invented the rocket fuel Hydyne, which was instrumental in launching Explorer-1, a feat for which lead engineer Wernhner von Braun got most of the credit.

Being overlooked was just fine with Morgan, though. She actively avoided the limelight at every opportunity. This combination of her overwhelming humility and the top-secret nature of her work resulted in no newspaper being able to verify the obituary her son submitted after her death. "My mother," he said, "had done such a good job of erasing herself from existence by not allowing anybody to write about her... nobody could verify that she ever even existed."

Since then, her son has worked tirelessly to build a legacy for her - writing a book and a stage play, trying to get as much information declassified as he possibly can. The rest, he puts out for independent verification.

That's a devoted son for you. The book is available on Amazon here.

Sources: Stuff Mom Never Told You, Wikipedia

Opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily those of WITI.

Become a WITI Member!

Are you interested in boosting your career, personal development, networking, and giving back? If so, WITI is the place for you! Become a WITI Member and receive exclusive access to attend our WITI members-only events, webinars, online coaching circles, find mentorship opportunities (become a mentor; find a mentor), and more!

Become a Member

Member Coaching Circles

There are no WITI online coaching circles scheduled at this time. Please check back soon for updates.

More Coaching Circles

Our Story

Founded in 1989, WITI (Women in Technology International) is committed to empowering innovators, inspiring future generations and building inclusive cultures, worldwide. WITI is redefining the way women and men collaborate to drive innovation and business growth and is helping corporate partners create and foster gender inclusive cultures. A leading authority of women in technology and business, WITI has been advocating and recognizing women's contributions in the industry for more than 30 years.

Read More

The organization delivers leading edge programs and platforms for individuals and companies -- designed to empower professionals, boost competitiveness and cultivate partnerships, globally. WITI’s ecosystem includes more than a million professionals, 60 networks and 300 partners, worldwide.

WITI's Mission

Empower Innovators.
Inspire Future Generations.
Build Inclusive Cultures.

As Part of That Mission WITI Is Committed to

Building Your Network.
Building Your Brand.
Advancing Your Career.