Rocket engineer Ed Hujsak of La Jolla launches several careers throughout his lifetime

Approaching his 90th year, La Jollan and rocket engineer Edward Hujsak (he was the propulsion engineer on John Glenn’s famous orbital flight), has become an artist, sculptor, poet and builder of fine furniture, musical instruments and toys for children in need.

Ed Hujsak

Hujsak was born in Nashua, New Hampshire, the son of a Polish farmer. He graduated in chemical engineering from the University of New Hampshire in 1949. His first job was at Bell in Niagara Falls, where he worked on the liquid rocket engine for the Rascal air-launched missile. In 1955, he moved to Convair in San Diego as a Senior Design Engineer for the Atlas ICBM engines. He rose in the engineering hierarchy, moving from the Atlas to the Centaur program, finally being a senior staff specialist for advanced upper stages and future expendable launch vehicles.

He retired from General Dynamics in 1988, but continued as a consultant for out-of-the-box concepts, such as sea-based launch systems and future electronics. In the course of his career, Hujsak was granted many patents. He has written eight books, among them, “The Future of U.S. Rocketry.”

What brought you to La Jolla?

My first job after graduating from college was with Bell Aircraft in Buffalo, New York, developing small air-launched rockets. When I heard that Convair in San Diego was starting development of a big rocket, ATLAS, I took employment in the engineering department.

If you could snap your fingers and have it done, what might you add to the area?

Mothering seals and sea lions in shore waters and beaches while they destroy the local eco-balance doesn’t make sense. I think they should be captured and boated to the uninhabited islands where they will be just as happy. It might be a steady job for someone until the marine mammals get used to it.

When the post office ceases operation, I would convert the building to a small theater to replace the badly missed Cove Theater. It could double as a community gathering spot, for example, hosting lectures and political meetings, as well as a concert hall for the Athenaeum, an upgrade from the too-close, folding-chair arrangement they now use. The building is in the middle of a thriving restaurant center and there isn’t a walk-to theater in sight.

Who or what impresses you?

That would be the incredible cosmic scale and the insignificance of humans in it, and yet (humans are) capable of stupendous deeds, as well as a growing capacity to understand it all.

If you hosted a dinner party for eight, who (living or deceased) would invite?

Probably musicians; they are entertaining both during and after dinner.

What are your five favorite movies of all time?

I’m not a big fan of movies, but other than ‘To Kill a Mocking Bird,” science fiction dominates … “2001,” “2010,” “Dune,” “Aliens.”

What is it you most dislike?


What do you do for fun?

I have a well-equipped shop, so enjoy making things, both art and utilitarian. I think most sculpture is dreary, even though well executed. I lean to the whimsical and comical. I also make hundreds of toys that are distributed to kids locally by the Woodworking Society. And I write.

What is your most-prized possession?

My dog, a rescued Rhodesian Ridgeback named Barney.

What is your motto or philosophy of life?

Breathe serenity. Love someone dearly. Do no harm.

What would be your dream vacation?

Oh yes, La Jolla. Living it every day.

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Posted by Staff on Mar 11, 2014. Filed under 10 Questions, Life. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

3 Comments for “Rocket engineer Ed Hujsak of La Jolla launches several careers throughout his lifetime”

  1. Califia

    Wisdom that recognizes the value of human life as well as our wildlife:

    “Mothering seals and sea lions in shore waters and beaches while they destroy the local eco-balance doesn’t make sense. I think they should be captured and boated to the uninhabited islands where they will be just as happy. It might be a steady job for someone until the marine mammals get used to it.” Ed Hujsak

  2. This gentleman of great wisdom is correct. The undersea ecosystem is becoming a barren wasteland due to the over population of pinnepeds due to man’s interference with the natural life cycles of the oceans. 80-100 million sharks have been killed each year for over a decade for shark fin soup. What do sharks eat? We are dealing with the law of supply and demand. Then shark food gets rescued over and over, making funds for the rescue operations. Where are the mussels, the sea cucumbers, the sea hares, and so many more tide pool creatures that used to abound at the Children’s Pool and up and down the La Jolla Coastline?
    Gone, devoured or polluted from huge amounts of seal and sea lion feces leaching constantly into the shallows and tide pools. I challenge any diver to find live mussels in the Children’s Pool. I can’t find one, and even the shells are crumbling away now , soon no trace of them will be there. We feed mussels to the man made Tide Pools at Birch Aquarium. They are a very important food source and an indicator species. The only Garibaldi I see left are the big narley ones that can outsmart the pinnepeds, but their offspring did not, and I fear we have lost too many to reproduce to a thriving population. No EIR was ever done pre seal release in 1992by Sea World to determine IF the La Jolla under sea ecosystem could sustain such huge numbers of new marine mammals. No fish stocks taken nor species inventories and no on going studies in relation to the huge birth rates of the seals and sea lions and the under sea ecosystem. With Scripps. and all the other Marine Institutes it is shameful for our under sea ecosystems to be so out of balance. Closing C.P. Will only further this devistation. If one loves seals then they should in turn love their home, the Ocean and the balance of life within it. C.P should be restored and the sluice ways opened, to restore the pool to a pool as designed, then no beach would be available for hauling out , and the pool water would circulate and be clean for all mammals. And Sea stars ( star fish) could be planted on the submerged inner walls of the POOL and Birch Aquarium and Scripps could be in charge of this starfish santuary where a disabled person could snorkel and see them in their natural habitat like at no other Pacific Ocean Swimming Pool in the World. A Ramp , a restored pool and the sea stars could spawn and help to repopulate the area. Maybe some Abalone as well. A no take zone for these two species, and keep the birth rates down for the pinnepeds and restore balance and restore access for disabled people. It’s only rebar and concrete, and this is what Ellen Browning Scripps would support. An ADA Ramp is long over due as is the restoration of her pool and the ecosystem. Balance is key to the health of our oceans and all the creatures within it. Children’s Pool is needed for the Challenged Athletes and Wounded Warriors and all disabled people, toddlers and the Elderly. Its our only safe ocean pool we have. Please support its restoration before it crumbles to only a seal feces pit and the ecosytem is beyond restoration like in Cape Cod on the east coast where their pinneped populatons are into the thousands and their fish stocks will never recover and the feces is kiling off species like it is here. Sea lions are going up the Sacramento River and eating the precious salmon.

  3. Dan

    I also took employment with GD Convair Division, Space Systems Group (622-0) from 1981 to 1984. Ed is a top engineer and a kind human being. I wish he was still around even today, just to weigh in on some of our more difficult questions… and flash that knowing smile of his.

    Keep on Rocketing Ed!

    Defense Aerospace and Rocket Technologies, LLC. (DART)

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