Frank H. Winter (born 1942) is an American historian and writer. He is the retired Curator of Rocketry of the National Air and Space Museum (NASM) of the Smithsonian Institution of Washington, D.C. Winter is also an internationally recognized historian of rocketry and spaceflight and the author of several landmark books besides numerous articles and papers on these topics.
Winter was born in London, England, in 1942. He emigrated to the United States with his family when he was 9 years old. He became a United States citizen in 1960, and attended public schools in New York City and Los Angeles.
He served in the U.S. Air Force from 1964-1968, and for his last two years of duty was reassigned to Morón Air Force Base, near Seville, Spain, and later to Torrejon Air Force Base, near Madrid, Spain. At both bases he worked as a military journalist, including the position as the feature editor for the Torrejon base newspaper. Winter won a Robert H. Goddard Essay Award from the National Space Club in 1965, while still in the Air Force.
His essay, "A Case Study in Challenge and Response: Danish Rocketry in the 19th Century," was published in the 1966 July issue of the Aerospace Historian, the quarterly of the Air Force Historical Foundation. He won a second Goddard essay award later, in 1970. After separating from the service, he continued his formal education at the University of Maryland, earning a BA in history, cum laude. Winter joined the National Air and Space Museum (NASM) in 1968 as a temporary part-time employee. In 1970 he became a full-time employee as a historical research clerk. From 1971 he has presented scholarly papers on the history of rocketry at International Astronautical Federation congresses, at International Congresses of the History of Science, and at other similar gatherings.
In 1980 he became an historian at the Museum. Then, in 1984, he was named the Curator of Rocketry, a position he held until 2007 when he retired. In 1996 Winter presented the American Astronautical Society's first Goddard Memorial Lecture and received a medal for it. The lecture was titled, "Robert H. Goddard – The Man and His Achievements."
In 2002, he and Kerrie Dougherty, then the Powerhouse Museum curator of space technology in Sydney, Australia, jointly won the "International Partnership Among Museums scholarship" of the American Association of Museums. Thus, he sojourned in Australia in 2003, with related journeys to Thailand and Laos, conducting research toward the planned Powerhouse exhibit, Fire Dragons: 1,000 Years of Rocketry in Asia.
He retired in 2007 after 39 years as a Smithsonian employee. He continues to help the Space History Department of the National Air and Space Museum as a curator emeritus. He lives in Virginia with his wife, Fe Dulce Rosal Winter, and daughter, Elaine Roxane Winter, while his son, Ron Winter, resides in Los Angeles. Winter continues to be very active as a freelance writer and museum consultant specializing in astronautics history and histories of companies in other fields. In addition, he continues to present history papers at International Astronautical Federation congresses as well as to work on further books.
Winter won two additional Goddard essay awards and presented the American Astronautical Society's first Goddard Memorial Lecture, for which he was bestowed with a medal.
Presentation of First AAS Goddard Memorial Lecture Medal
Winter charmed the judges of the National Space Club two more times with prizewinning Goddard Essays, and he received the first Goddard Memorial Lecture Medal ever presented by the American Astronautical Society.