Frank Joseph Malina (October 2, 1912 -- November 9, 1981) was an American aeronautical engineer and painter, especially known for becoming both a pioneer in the art world and the realm of scientific engineering.
Malina was born in Brenham, Texas. His father came from Bohemia. Frank's formal education began with a degree in mechanical engineering from Texas A&M University in 1934. The same year he received a scholarship to study mechanical engineering at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), where he obtained his doctor degree in 1940. 
In 1935, while a graduate student at Caltech, Malina persuaded Professor of Aeronautics Theodore von Kármán to allow him to pursue studies into rocketry and rocket propulsion. The formal goal was development of a sounding rocket.
Malina's group was forced to move their operations away from the main Caltech campus into the more remote Arroyo Seco. This site and the research Malina was conducting would later become the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). Malina served as the second Director of JPL.
By late 1945, Malina's rockets had outgrown the facility at Arroyo Seco, and his tests were moved to White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. Here, the project's WAC Corporal sounding rocket was the first U.S. rocket to break the 50-mile altitude mark, becoming the first sounding rocket to reach space.
During 1947, with rocket research in high gear, Malina's demanding travel and administrative schedule, along with a dislike of so much rocketry research being devoted to weapons systems and not scientific research, caused him to re-evaluate his career and leave Aerojet. Malina's interest in the Communist Party, Caltech's "Unit 122," and labor activism while he was a graduate student in the 1930s had also attracted the attention of the FBI. However, there is "scant evidence" that Unit 122 or its "communist offshoot" ever passed rocket information to the Soviet Union in the 1930s or 1940s. ("The surveillance of suspected 'communists' hardly ever revealed espionage and served mainly to feed prejudice.")
He moved to France and joined the fledgling United Nations as secretariat of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) under Julian Huxley. In 1951, Malina became head of UNESCO's division of scientific research. Two years later, Malina left UNESCO to pursue an interest in kinetic art. In 1952, at the height of the Red Scare, Malina was indicted for having failed to list his Communist Party membership on an old security questionnaire from Caltech. He was declared a fugitive, to be arrested if and when he returned to the United States.
In 1968 in Paris he founded Leonardo, an international peer-reviewed research journal that featured articles written by artists on their own work, and focused on the interactions between the contemporary arts with the sciences and new technologies. The Leonardo journal is still published as of 2018 as a project of Leonardo/ISAST, the International Society for the Arts, Sciences and Technology.
Frank Malina died in 1981 in Boulogne-Billancourt, near Paris, France. His widow Marjorie Duckworth Malina died in 2006. Their sons Roger and Alan Malina live and work in France and Portugal, respectively.