Lasser was born in Baltimore, Maryland, to Jewish immigrant parents from Russia. His family moved to Newark, New Jersey, where he grew up. He left high school at 16 to enlist in the Army in World War I, lying about his age. After being gassed on the front lines in France, he was honorably discharged as a Sergeant in 1919. Despite never graduating from high school, he was admitted to M.I.T., graduating with a B.S. in Engineering Administration.
In the late 1920s Lasser moved to New York City, where he his engineering background helped him land a job as managing editor of Hugo Gernsback's new science fiction magazine, Science Wonder Stories. Lasser and his writers, who included G. Edward Pendray, founded the American Interplanetary Society on April 4, 1930. They renamed it the American Rocket Society in 1934, and under the later leadership of Pendray it became the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.