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"The science fiction method is dissection and reconstruction. You look at the world around you, and take it apart into its components. Then you take some of those components, throw them away, and plug in different ones, start it up and see what happens."
- Frederik Pohl

Rocketeer  
  A person who pilots rockets.  

An early use in science fiction, with its own specialized meaning.

Conning space as a master rocketeer saps not so much the body as the brain of a man. Rade Hallam's Silver Sunburst was ringed by thirteen stars, and before that he had served ten years as controlman. No spaceman in all the fleet has ever come within four years of matching that length of service, yet more than one rocketeer has been known to crack up, mentally, on the spaceways. The grueling flights through blackness are murderous.
From Sunward Flight, by Leo Zagat.
Published by Super Science Stories in 1943
Additional resources -

The highest rank individual was called a "master rocketeer":

Rade Hallam, her master rocketeer, was due to make his report at the headquarters of the Interplanetary Board of Control and get from the I.B.C.'s chartroom the latest dope on such perils to astrogation as new meteor swarms, ether swirls and so on.

See also rocketeering from Ra for the Rajah (1938) by John Victor Peterson.

The term "rocketeer" goes back to at least the War of 1812, and there are probably earlier references. A man in charge of firing rockets was called a "rocketeer".

Compare to astronaut from The Death's Head Meteor (1930) by Neil R. Jones, space pirate from Evans of the Earth-Guard (1930) by Edmond Hamilton, astrogator from The Conquest of Space (1931) by David Lasser, space men from Revolt of the Star Men (1932) by Raymond Z. Gallun, space-sailor from The Star-Roamers (1933) by Edmond Hamilton, spacedog from A Question of Salvage (1939) by Malcolm Jameson, space marines from Misfit (1939) by Robert Heinlein and space cadet from Sunward Flight (1943) by Leo Zagat.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Sunward Flight
  More Ideas and Technology by Leo Zagat
  Tech news articles related to Sunward Flight
  Tech news articles related to works by Leo Zagat

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