White Sands Missile Range Hall of Fame

Dr. Ernst Steinhoff
Rocket Scientist
Served 1945 – 1972
Inducted 1984

Dr. Ernst Steinhoff was born Feb. 11, 1908, in Treysa, West Germany. He completed high school in Kassel, West Germany in 1920.

Steinhoff attended Darmstadt Institute of Technology in Darmstadt, West Germany for his higher education. He earned his bachelor’s degree in aeronautics in 1931, his master’s degree in meteorology in 1933 and his doctorate in applied physics in 1940.

Steinhoff came to the United States with Dr. Werner von Braun and the Operation Paperclip team in 1945. The team provided the technical expertise for the V-2 missile program at White Sands Proving Ground (WSPG).

Prior to coming to America, Steinhoff was a key scientist with the German Research Rocket Center at Peenemunde, where the V-1 and V-2 were developed. He was in charge of planning, development and the testing of missile guidance systems and automatic controls.

When he came to WSPG, he continued to work on guidance control systems. He also was in charge of the operation of V-2 missile, flight termination systems for firings in 1946 and early 1947.

In 1949, Steinhoff transferred to Holloman Air Force Base, but continued to work closely with White Sands. He played a prominent role in the early planning for range instrumentation to support missile firings from Holloman.

Steinhoff is widely recognized for his work in real time computing for missile flight guidance and control. His work led to real time processing of data from White Sands instrumentation.

Steinhoff retired from federal service in 1972. At that time, he was serving as chief scientist of the U.S. Air Force Missile Development Center at Holloman.

Steinhoff made his home in Alamogordo.

He died on 02 December 1987.