Wernher von Braun
Overview
 
Wernher Magnus Maximilian, Freiherr von Braun (March 23, 1912 – June 16, 1977) was a German
Germans
The Germans are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe. The English term Germans has referred to the German-speaking population of the Holy Roman Empire since the Late Middle Ages....

 rocket scientist, aerospace engineer, space architect, and one of the leading figures in the development of rocket
Rocket
A rocket is a missile, spacecraft, aircraft or other vehicle which obtains thrust from a rocket engine. In all rockets, the exhaust is formed entirely from propellants carried within the rocket before use. Rocket engines work by action and reaction...

 technology in Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 and in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 after that.

A former member of the Nazi party, commissioned Sturmbannführer
Sturmbannführer
Sturmbannführer was a paramilitary rank of the Nazi Party equivalent to major, used both in the Sturmabteilung and the Schutzstaffel...

 of the paramilitary
Paramilitary
A paramilitary is a force whose function and organization are similar to those of a professional military, but which is not considered part of a state's formal armed forces....

 SS and decorated Nazi war hero
War Merit Cross
The War Merit Cross was a decoration of Nazi Germany during the Second World War, which could be awarded to civilians as well as military personnel...

, von Braun would later be regarded as the preeminent rocket engineer of the 20th century in his role with the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 civilian space agency NASA
NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

.
Quotations

Nature does not know extinction; all it knows is transformation. Everything science has taught me, and continues to teach me, strengthens my belief in the continuity of our spiritual existence after death.

As quoted in Gravity's Rainbow (1973) by Thomas Pynchon; also quoted as: Everything science has taught me— and continues to teach me— strengthens my belief in the continuity of our spiritual existence after death. Nothing disappears without a trace.

For me, the idea of a creation is not conceivable without invoking the necessity of design. One cannot be exposed to the law and order of the universe without concluding that there must be design and purpose behind it all.

From a letter to the California State board of Education (14 September 1972)

My experiences with science led me to God. They challenge science to prove the existence of God. But must we really light a candle to see the sun?

From a letter to the California State board of Education (14 September 1972)

It is in scientific honesty that I endorse the presentation of alternative theories for the origin of the universe, life and man in the science classroom. It would be an error to overlook the possibility that the universe was planned rather than happening by chance.

From a letter to the California State board of Education (14 September 1972)

Science does not have a moral dimension. It is like a knife. If you give it to a surgeon or a murderer, each will use it differently.

Quoted in "Juan Yong Ying Yu Ming Yan‎" - Page 242 - by Xi-ya Ma - 2007

Encyclopedia
Wernher Magnus Maximilian, Freiherr von Braun (March 23, 1912 – June 16, 1977) was a German
Germans
The Germans are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe. The English term Germans has referred to the German-speaking population of the Holy Roman Empire since the Late Middle Ages....

 rocket scientist, aerospace engineer, space architect, and one of the leading figures in the development of rocket
Rocket
A rocket is a missile, spacecraft, aircraft or other vehicle which obtains thrust from a rocket engine. In all rockets, the exhaust is formed entirely from propellants carried within the rocket before use. Rocket engines work by action and reaction...

 technology in Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 and in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 after that.

A former member of the Nazi party, commissioned Sturmbannführer
Sturmbannführer
Sturmbannführer was a paramilitary rank of the Nazi Party equivalent to major, used both in the Sturmabteilung and the Schutzstaffel...

 of the paramilitary
Paramilitary
A paramilitary is a force whose function and organization are similar to those of a professional military, but which is not considered part of a state's formal armed forces....

 SS and decorated Nazi war hero
War Merit Cross
The War Merit Cross was a decoration of Nazi Germany during the Second World War, which could be awarded to civilians as well as military personnel...

, von Braun would later be regarded as the preeminent rocket engineer of the 20th century in his role with the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 civilian space agency NASA
NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

. In his 20s and early 30s, von Braun was the central figure in Germany's rocket development program, responsible for the design and realization of the deadly V-2
V-2 rocket
The V-2 rocket , technical name Aggregat-4 , was a ballistic missile that was developed at the beginning of the Second World War in Germany, specifically targeted at London and later Antwerp. The liquid-propellant rocket was the world's first long-range combat-ballistic missile and first known...

 combat rocket during World War II. After the war, he and some of his rocket team were taken to the U.S. as part of the then-secret Operation Paperclip
Operation Paperclip
Operation Paperclip was the Office of Strategic Services program used to recruit the scientists of Nazi Germany for employment by the United States in the aftermath of World War II...

. Von Braun worked on the US Army intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM) program before his group was assimilated by NASA, under which he served as director of the newly formed Marshall Space Flight Center
Marshall Space Flight Center
The George C. Marshall Space Flight Center is the U.S. government's civilian rocketry and spacecraft propulsion research center. The largest center of NASA, MSFC's first mission was developing the Saturn launch vehicles for the Apollo moon program...

 and as the chief architect of the Saturn V
Saturn V
The Saturn V was an American human-rated expendable rocket used by NASA's Apollo and Skylab programs from 1967 until 1973. A multistage liquid-fueled launch vehicle, NASA launched 13 Saturn Vs from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida with no loss of crew or payload...

 launch vehicle, the superbooster that propelled the Apollo spacecraft
Apollo spacecraft
The Apollo spacecraft was composed of five combined parts designed to accomplish the American Apollo program's goal of landing astronauts on the Moon by the end of the 1960s and returning them safely to Earth...

 to the Moon. According to one NASA source, he is "without doubt, the greatest rocket scientist in history." His crowning achievement was to lead the development of the Saturn V
Saturn V
The Saturn V was an American human-rated expendable rocket used by NASA's Apollo and Skylab programs from 1967 until 1973. A multistage liquid-fueled launch vehicle, NASA launched 13 Saturn Vs from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida with no loss of crew or payload...

 booster rocket that helped land the first men on the Moon
Moon
The Moon is Earth's only known natural satellite,There are a number of near-Earth asteroids including 3753 Cruithne that are co-orbital with Earth: their orbits bring them close to Earth for periods of time but then alter in the long term . These are quasi-satellites and not true moons. For more...

 in July 1969." In 1975 he received the National Medal of Science
National Medal of Science
The National Medal of Science is an honor bestowed by the President of the United States to individuals in science and engineering who have made important contributions to the advancement of knowledge in the fields of behavioral and social sciences, biology, chemistry, engineering, mathematics and...

.

Early life

Wernher von Braun was born in Wirsitz
Wyrzysk
Wyrzysk is a town in Poland with 5,263 inhabitants, situated in Piła County, Greater Poland Voivodeship.- Geographic location of municipal-rural community of Wyrzysk:...

 (Wyrzysk
Wyrzysk
Wyrzysk is a town in Poland with 5,263 inhabitants, situated in Piła County, Greater Poland Voivodeship.- Geographic location of municipal-rural community of Wyrzysk:...

), Province of Posen
Province of Posen
The Province of Posen was a province of Prussia from 1848–1918 and as such part of the German Empire from 1871 to 1918. The area was about 29,000 km2....

, then a part of the German Empire
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

, and was the second of three sons. He belonged to an aristocratic
Aristocracy (class)
The aristocracy are people considered to be in the highest social class in a society which has or once had a political system of Aristocracy. Aristocrats possess hereditary titles granted by a monarch, which once granted them feudal or legal privileges, or deriving, as in Ancient Greece and India,...

 family, inheriting the German title of Freiherr
Freiherr
The German titles Freiherr and Freifrau and Freiin are titles of nobility, used preceding a person's given name or, after 1919, before the surname...

(equivalent to Baron
Baron
Baron is a title of nobility. The word baron comes from Old French baron, itself from Old High German and Latin baro meaning " man, warrior"; it merged with cognate Old English beorn meaning "nobleman"...

). His father, conservative civil servant Magnus Freiherr von Braun
Magnus von Braun (senior)
Magnus Alexander Maximilian Freiherr von Braun was a German jurist and politician.-Biography:Braun was born at his family's manor of Neucken, an estate the von Brauns had owned since 1803, near Pr...

 (1878–1972), served as a Minister of Agriculture in the Federal Cabinet during the Weimar Republic
Weimar Republic
The Weimar Republic is the name given by historians to the parliamentary republic established in 1919 in Germany to replace the imperial form of government...

. His mother, Emmy von Quistorp (1886–1959), could trace her ancestry through both parents to medieval European royalty
Royal family
A royal family is the extended family of a king or queen regnant. The term imperial family appropriately describes the extended family of an emperor or empress, while the terms "ducal family", "grand ducal family" or "princely family" are more appropriate to describe the relatives of a reigning...

, a descendant of Philip III of France
Philip III of France
Philip III , called the Bold , was the King of France, succeeding his father, Louis IX, and reigning from 1270 to 1285. He was a member of the House of Capet.-Biography:...

, Valdemar I of Denmark
Valdemar I of Denmark
Valdemar I of Denmark , also known as Valdemar the Great, was King of Denmark from 1157 until 1182.-Biography:...

, Robert III of Scotland
Robert III of Scotland
Robert III was King of Scots from 1390 to his death. His given name was John Stewart, and he was known primarily as the Earl of Carrick before ascending the throne at age 53...

, and Edward III of England
Edward III of England
Edward III was King of England from 1327 until his death and is noted for his military success. Restoring royal authority after the disastrous reign of his father, Edward II, Edward III went on to transform the Kingdom of England into one of the most formidable military powers in Europe...

. Von Braun had a younger brother, also named Magnus Freiherr von Braun
Magnus von Braun
Magnus "Mac" Freiherr von Braun was a German chemical engineer, Luftwaffe aviator, and rocket scientist at Peenemünde, the Mittelwerk, and after emigrating to the United States via Operation Paperclip, at Fort Bliss...

. After Wernher von Braun's Lutheran confirmation
Confirmation (Lutheran Church)
Confirmation in the Lutheran Church is a public profession of faith prepared for by long and careful instruction. In English, it is called "affirmation of baptism", and is a mature and public profession of the faith which "marks the completion of the congregation's program of confirmation...

, his mother gave him a telescope
Telescope
A telescope is an instrument that aids in the observation of remote objects by collecting electromagnetic radiation . The first known practical telescopes were invented in the Netherlands at the beginning of the 1600s , using glass lenses...

, and he developed a passion for astronomy
Astronomy
Astronomy is a natural science that deals with the study of celestial objects and phenomena that originate outside the atmosphere of Earth...

. When Wyrzysk
Wyrzysk
Wyrzysk is a town in Poland with 5,263 inhabitants, situated in Piła County, Greater Poland Voivodeship.- Geographic location of municipal-rural community of Wyrzysk:...

 was transferred to Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 at the end of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, his family, like many other German families, moved to Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

. They settled in Berlin
Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

, where 12-year-old von Braun, inspired by speed records established by Max Valier
Max Valier
Max Valier was an Austrian rocketry pioneer. He helped found the German Verein für Raumschiffahrt that would bring together many of the minds that would later make spaceflight a reality in the 20th century.-Biography:Valier was born in Bozen , South Tyrol and in 1913 enrolled to study Physics at...

 and Fritz von Opel
Fritz von Opel
Fritz Adam Hermann Opel, since 1918 von Opel , was the only child of Wilhelm von Opel, and a grandson of Adam Opel, founder of the Opel Company...

 in rocket-propelled cars, caused a major disruption in a crowded street by detonating a toy wagon to which he had attached a number of fireworks. He was taken into custody by the local police until his father came to collect him.

Von Braun was an accomplished amateur musician who could play Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven was a German composer and pianist. A crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western art music, he remains one of the most famous and influential composers of all time.Born in Bonn, then the capital of the Electorate of Cologne and part of...

 and Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach was a German composer, organist, harpsichordist, violist, and violinist whose sacred and secular works for choir, orchestra, and solo instruments drew together the strands of the Baroque period and brought it to its ultimate maturity...

 from memory. Von Braun learned to play the cello
Cello
The cello is a bowed string instrument with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is a member of the violin family of musical instruments, which also includes the violin, viola, and double bass. Old forms of the instrument in the Baroque era are baryton and viol .A person who plays a cello is...

 and the piano at an early age and originally wanted to become a composer. He took lessons from composer, Paul Hindemith
Paul Hindemith
Paul Hindemith was a German composer, violist, violinist, teacher, music theorist and conductor.- Biography :Born in Hanau, near Frankfurt, Hindemith was taught the violin as a child...

. The few pieces of von Braun’s youthful compositions that exist are reminiscent of Hindemith’s style.

Beginning in 1925, von Braun attended a boarding school
Boarding school
A boarding school is a school where some or all pupils study and live during the school year with their fellow students and possibly teachers and/or administrators. The word 'boarding' is used in the sense of "bed and board," i.e., lodging and meals...

 at Ettersburg Castle
Ettersburg
Ettersburg is a municipality in the Weimarer Land district of Thuringia, Germany....

 near Weimar
Weimar
Weimar is a city in Germany famous for its cultural heritage. It is located in the federal state of Thuringia , north of the Thüringer Wald, east of Erfurt, and southwest of Halle and Leipzig. Its current population is approximately 65,000. The oldest record of the city dates from the year 899...

 where he did not do well in physics and mathematics. In 1928 his parents moved him to the Hermann-Lietz-Internat (also a residential school) on the East Frisia
East Frisia
East Frisia or Eastern Friesland is a coastal region in the northwest of the German federal state of Lower Saxony....

n North Sea
North Sea
In the southwest, beyond the Straits of Dover, the North Sea becomes the English Channel connecting to the Atlantic Ocean. In the east, it connects to the Baltic Sea via the Skagerrak and Kattegat, narrow straits that separate Denmark from Norway and Sweden respectively...

 island of Spiekeroog
Spiekeroog
Spiekeroog is one of the East Frisian Islands, off the North Sea coast of Germany. It is situated between Langeoog to its west, and Wangerooge to its east. The island belongs to the district of Wittmund, in Lower Saxony in Germany. The only village on the island is also called...

. There he acquired a copy of Die Rakete zu den Planetenräumen (1929) (By Rocket into Interplanetary Space) (in German) by rocket pioneer Hermann Oberth
Hermann Oberth
Hermann Julius Oberth was an Austro-Hungarian-born German physicist and engineer. He is considered one of the founding fathers of rocketry and astronautics.- Early life :...

. Space travel had always fascinated von Braun, and from then on he applied himself to physics
Physics
Physics is a natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through spacetime, along with related concepts such as energy and force. More broadly, it is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the universe behaves.Physics is one of the oldest academic...

 and mathematics
Mathematics
Mathematics is the study of quantity, space, structure, and change. Mathematicians seek out patterns and formulate new conjectures. Mathematicians resolve the truth or falsity of conjectures by mathematical proofs, which are arguments sufficient to convince other mathematicians of their validity...

 to pursue his interest in rocket engineering.

In 1930 he attended the Technical University of Berlin
Technical University of Berlin
The Technische Universität Berlin is a research university located in Berlin, Germany. Translating the name into English is discouraged by the university, however paraphrasing as Berlin Institute of Technology is recommended by the university if necessary .The TU Berlin was founded...

, where he joined the Verein für Raumschiffahrt
Verein für Raumschiffahrt
The Verein für Raumschiffahrt was a German amateur rocket association prior to World War II that included members outside of Germany...

(VfR, the "Spaceflight Society") and assisted Willy Ley
Willy Ley
Willy Ley was a German-American science writer and space advocate who helped popularize rocketry and spaceflight in both Germany and the United States. The crater Ley on the far side of the Moon is named in his honor.-Life:...

 in his liquid-fueled rocket motor tests in conjunction with Hermann Oberth
Hermann Oberth
Hermann Julius Oberth was an Austro-Hungarian-born German physicist and engineer. He is considered one of the founding fathers of rocketry and astronautics.- Early life :...

. He also studied at ETH Zurich
ETH Zurich
The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich or ETH Zürich is an engineering, science, technology, mathematics and management university in the City of Zurich, Switzerland....

. Although he worked mainly on military rockets in his later years there, space travel remained his primary interest.

The following episode from the early 1930s is telling in this respect. At this time von Braun attended a presentation given by Auguste Piccard
Auguste Piccard
Auguste Antoine Piccard was a Swiss physicist, inventor and explorer.-Biography:Piccard and his twin brother Jean Felix were born in Basel, Switzerland...

. After the talk the young student approached the famous pioneer of high-altitude balloon flight, and stated to him: "You know, I plan on travelling to the Moon at some time." Piccard is said to have responded with encouraging words.

He was greatly influenced by Oberth, and he said of him:

The Prussian rocketeer and working under the Nazis

Von Braun was working on his creative doctorate when the National Socialist German Workers Party
National Socialist German Workers Party
The National Socialist German Workers' Party , commonly known in English as the Nazi Party, was a political party in Germany between 1920 and 1945. Its predecessor, the German Workers' Party , existed from 1919 to 1920...

 (NSDAP, or Nazi party) came to power in a coalition government in Germany; rocketry almost immediately became part of the national agenda. An artillery captain, Walter Dornberger
Walter Dornberger
Major-General Dr Walter Robert Dornberger was a German Army artillery officer whose career spanned World Wars I and II. He was a leader of Germany's V-2 rocket program and other projects at the Peenemünde Army Research Center....

, arranged an Ordnance
Military logistics
Military logistics is the discipline of planning and carrying out the movement and maintenance of military forces. In its most comprehensive sense, it is those aspects or military operations that deal with:...

 Department research grant for Von Braun, who then worked next to Dornberger's existing solid-fuel rocket test site at Kummersdorf
Kummersdorf
Kummersdorf is the name of an estate near Luckenwalde at , around 25km south of Berlin, in the Brandenburg region of Germany. Until 1945 Kummersdorf hosted the weapon office of the German Army which ran a development centre for future weapons as well as an artillery range.In 1929 the Army Weapons...

. He was awarded a doctorate in physics (aerospace engineering
Aerospace engineering
Aerospace engineering is the primary branch of engineering concerned with the design, construction and science of aircraft and spacecraft. It is divided into two major and overlapping branches: aeronautical engineering and astronautical engineering...

) on July 27, 1934 from the University of Berlin
Humboldt University of Berlin
The Humboldt University of Berlin is Berlin's oldest university, founded in 1810 as the University of Berlin by the liberal Prussian educational reformer and linguist Wilhelm von Humboldt, whose university model has strongly influenced other European and Western universities...

 for a thesis titled About Combustion Tests; his doctoral advisor was Erich Schumann
Erich Schumann
Erich Schumann was a German physicist who specialized in acoustics and explosives, and had a penchant for music, as he was a grandson of the classical composer Robert Schumann. He was a general officer in the army and a professor at the University of Berlin and the Technical University of Berlin...

. However, this thesis was only the public part of von Braun's work. His actual full thesis, Construction, Theoretical, and Experimental Solution to the Problem of the Liquid Propellant Rocket (dated April 16, 1934) was kept classified by the army, and was not published until 1960. By the end of 1934, his group had successfully launched two rockets that rose to heights of 2.2 and 3.5 kilometers.

At the time, Germany was highly interested in American physicist Robert H. Goddard
Robert H. Goddard
Robert Hutchings Goddard was an American professor, physicist and inventor who is credited with creating and building the world's first liquid-fueled rocket, which he successfully launched on March 16, 1926...

's research. Before 1939, German scientists occasionally contacted Goddard directly with technical questions. Wernher von Braun used Goddard's plans from various journals and incorporated them into the building of the Aggregat
Aggregate series
The Aggregate series was a set of rocket designs developed in 1933–1945 by a research program of Nazi Germany's army. Its greatest success was the A4, more commonly known as the V-2. The German word refers to a group of machines working together.-A1:...

(A) series of rocket
Rocket
A rocket is a missile, spacecraft, aircraft or other vehicle which obtains thrust from a rocket engine. In all rockets, the exhaust is formed entirely from propellants carried within the rocket before use. Rocket engines work by action and reaction...

s. The A-4 rocket is the well known V-2. In 1963, von Braun reflected on the history of rocketry, and said of Goddard's work: "His rockets ... may have been rather crude by present-day standards, but they blazed the trail and incorporated many features used in our most modern rockets and space vehicles." Goddard confirmed his work was used by von Braun in 1944, shortly before the Nazis began firing V-2s at England. A V2 crashed in Sweden and some parts were sent to an Annapolis lab where Goddard was doing research for the Navy. If this was the so-called Bäckebo Bomb, it had been procured by the British in exchange for Spitfires; Annapolis would have received some parts from them. Goddard is reported to have recognized components he had invented, and inferred that his brainchild had been turned into a weapon.

There were no German rocket societies after the collapse of the VFR
Verein für Raumschiffahrt
The Verein für Raumschiffahrt was a German amateur rocket association prior to World War II that included members outside of Germany...

, and civilian rocket tests were forbidden by the new Nazi regime
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

. Only military development was allowed and to this end, a larger facility was erected at the village of Peenemünde
Peenemünde
The Peenemünde Army Research Center was founded in 1937 as one of five military proving grounds under the Army Weapons Office ....

 in northern Germany on the Baltic Sea
Baltic Sea
The Baltic Sea is a brackish mediterranean sea located in Northern Europe, from 53°N to 66°N latitude and from 20°E to 26°E longitude. It is bounded by the Scandinavian Peninsula, the mainland of Europe, and the Danish islands. It drains into the Kattegat by way of the Øresund, the Great Belt and...

. Dornberger became the military commander at Peenemünde, with von Braun as technical director. In collaboration with the Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe is a generic German term for an air force. It is also the official name for two of the four historic German air forces, the Wehrmacht air arm founded in 1935 and disbanded in 1946; and the current Bundeswehr air arm founded in 1956....

, the Peenemünde group developed liquid-fuel rocket engines for aircraft and jet-assisted takeoffs. They also developed the long-range A-4
V-2 rocket
The V-2 rocket , technical name Aggregat-4 , was a ballistic missile that was developed at the beginning of the Second World War in Germany, specifically targeted at London and later Antwerp. The liquid-propellant rocket was the world's first long-range combat-ballistic missile and first known...

 ballistic missile
Ballistic missile
A ballistic missile is a missile that follows a sub-orbital ballistic flightpath with the objective of delivering one or more warheads to a predetermined target. The missile is only guided during the relatively brief initial powered phase of flight and its course is subsequently governed by the...

 and the supersonic
Supersonic
Supersonic speed is a rate of travel of an object that exceeds the speed of sound . For objects traveling in dry air of a temperature of 20 °C this speed is approximately 343 m/s, 1,125 ft/s, 768 mph or 1,235 km/h. Speeds greater than five times the speed of sound are often...

 Wasserfall anti-aircraft missile.

In November 1937 (other sources: December 1, 1932), von Braun joined the National Socialist German Workers Party
National Socialist German Workers Party
The National Socialist German Workers' Party , commonly known in English as the Nazi Party, was a political party in Germany between 1920 and 1945. Its predecessor, the German Workers' Party , existed from 1919 to 1920...

. An Office of Military Government, United States
Office of Military Government, United States
The Office of Military Government, United States was the United States military-established government created shortly after the end of hostilities in occupied Germany in World War II. Under General Lucius D...

 document dated April 23, 1947, states that von Braun joined the Waffen-SS (Schutzstaffel
Schutzstaffel
The Schutzstaffel |Sig runes]]) was a major paramilitary organization under Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party. Built upon the Nazi ideology, the SS under Heinrich Himmler's command was responsible for many of the crimes against humanity during World War II...

) horseback riding school in 1933, then the National Socialist Party on May 1, 1937, and became an officer in the Waffen-SS
Waffen-SS
The Waffen-SS was a multi-ethnic and multi-national military force of the Third Reich. It constituted the armed wing of the Schutzstaffel or SS, an organ of the Nazi Party. The Waffen-SS saw action throughout World War II and grew from three regiments to over 38 divisions, and served alongside...

 from May 1940 until the end of the war.

Amongst his comments about his NSDAP membership von Braun has said:
I was officially demanded to join the National Socialist Party. At this time (1937) I was already technical director of the Army Rocket Center at Peenemünde ... My refusal to join the party would have meant that I would have to abandon the work of my life. Therefore, I decided to join. My membership in the party did not involve any political activities ... in Spring 1940, one SS-Standartenführer
Standartenführer
Standartenführer was a Nazi Party paramilitary rank that was used in the so-called Nazi combat-organisations: SA, SS, NSKK and the NSFK...

 (SS Colonel) Müller ... looked me up in my office at Peenemünde and told me that Reichsführer-SS
Reichsführer-SS
was a special SS rank that existed between the years of 1925 and 1945. Reichsführer-SS was a title from 1925 to 1933 and, after 1934, the highest rank of the German Schutzstaffel .-Definition:...

 Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Luitpold Himmler was Reichsführer of the SS, a military commander, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. As Chief of the German Police and the Minister of the Interior from 1943, Himmler oversaw all internal and external police and security forces, including the Gestapo...

 had sent him with the order to urge me to join the SS. I called immediately on my military superior ... Major-General W. Dornberger. He informed me that ... if I wanted to continue our mutual work, I had no alternative but to join.


That claim has been often disputed because in 1940, the Waffen-SS had shown no interest in Peenemünde yet. Also, the assertion that persons in von Braun's position were pressured to join the Nazi party, let alone the SS, has been disputed. When shown a picture of him behind Himmler, Braun claimed to have worn the SS uniform only that one time, but in 2002 a former SS officer at Peenemünde told the BBC that von Braun had regularly worn the SS uniform to official meetings; it should be noted that this was mandatory. He began as an Untersturmführer
Untersturmführer
Untersturmführer was a paramilitary rank of the German Schutzstaffel first created in July 1934. The rank can trace its origins to the older SA rank of Sturmführer which had existed since the founding of the SA in 1921...

 (Second Lieutenant) and was promoted three times by Himmler, the last time in June 1943 to SS-Sturmbannführer
Sturmbannführer
Sturmbannführer was a paramilitary rank of the Nazi Party equivalent to major, used both in the Sturmabteilung and the Schutzstaffel...

 (Wehrmacht
Wehrmacht
The Wehrmacht – from , to defend and , the might/power) were the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer , the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe .-Origin and use of the term:...

 Major). Von Braun claimed this was a technical promotion received each year regularly by mail.

On December 22, 1942, Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 signed the order approving the production of the A-4 as a "vengeance weapon" and the group developed it to target London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

. Following von Braun's July 7, 1943 presentation of a color movie showing an A-4 taking off, Hitler was so enthusiastic that he personally made von Braun a professor shortly thereafter. In Germany at this time, this was an exceptional promotion for an engineer who was only 31 years old.

By that time the British and Soviet intelligence agencies were aware of the rocket program and von Braun's team at Peenemünde. Over the nights of 17 and 18 August 1943 RAF Bomber Command
RAF Bomber Command
RAF Bomber Command controlled the RAF's bomber forces from 1936 to 1968. During World War II the command destroyed a significant proportion of Nazi Germany's industries and many German cities, and in the 1960s stood at the peak of its postwar military power with the V bombers and a supplemental...

's Operation Hydra dispatched raids on the Peenemünde camp consisting of 596 aircraft and dropping 1,800 tons of explosives. The facility was salvaged and most of the science team remained unharmed; however, the raids killed von Braun's engine designer Walter Thiel
Walter Thiel
Dr Walter Thiel was a German rocket scientist.He was the third civilian hired by Walter Dornberger for German research at Kummersdorf on November 1, 1932, , and in 1936, transferred to Dornberger's new rocket section...

 and Chief Engineer Walther, and the rocket program was delayed.
The first combat A-4, renamed the V-2
V-2 rocket
The V-2 rocket , technical name Aggregat-4 , was a ballistic missile that was developed at the beginning of the Second World War in Germany, specifically targeted at London and later Antwerp. The liquid-propellant rocket was the world's first long-range combat-ballistic missile and first known...

 (Vergeltungswaffe 2 "Retaliation/Vengeance Weapon 2") for propaganda purposes, was launched toward England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 on September 7, 1944, only 21 months after the project had been officially commissioned. Von Braun's interest in rockets was specifically for the application of space travel, which led him to say on hearing the news from London: "The rocket worked perfectly except for landing on the wrong planet." He described it as his "darkest day". However, satirist Mort Sahl
Mort Sahl
Morton Lyon "Mort" Sahl is a Canadian-born American comedian and actor. He occasionally wrote jokes for speeches delivered by President John F. Kennedy. He was the first comedian to record a live album and the first to perform on college campuses...

 is often credited with mocking von Braun with the paraphrase "I aim at the stars, but sometimes I hit London". In fact that line appears in the film I Aim at the Stars
I Aim at the Stars
I Aim at the Stars is a 1960 biographical film which tells the story of the life of Wernher von Braun. The film covers his life from his early days in Germany, through Peenemünde, up until his work with the U.S...

, a 1960 biopic on von Braun.

Experiments with rocket aircraft

During 1936 von Braun's rocketry team working at Kummersdorf investigated installing liquid-fuelled rockets in aircraft. Ernst Heinkel
Ernst Heinkel
Dr. Ernst Heinkel was a German aircraft designer, manufacturer, Wehrwirtschaftführer in the Third Reich, and member of the Nazi party. His company Heinkel Flugzeugwerke produced the Heinkel He 178, the world's first turbojet aircraft and jet plane, and the Heinkel He 176, the first rocket aircraft...

 enthusiastically supported their efforts, supplying a He 72
Heinkel He 72
|-See also:-References:* Wood, Tony and Bill Gunston. Hitler's Luftwaffe: A Pictorial History and Technical Encyclopedia of Hitler's Air Power in World War II. London:Salamander books,1977. ISBN 0-86101-005-1....

 and later two He 112
Heinkel He 112
The Heinkel He 112 was a fighter aircraft designed by Walter and Siegfried Günter. It was one of four aircraft designed to compete for the Luftwaffes 1933 fighter contract, which was eventually won by the Messerschmitt Bf 109...

s for the experiments. Late in 1936 Erich Warsitz
Erich Warsitz
Erich Warsitz was a German test pilot of the 1930s. He held the rank of Flight-Captain in the Luftwaffe and was selected by the Reich Air Ministry as chief test pilot at Peenemünde West...

 was seconded by the RLM
Reich Air Ministry
thumb|300px|The Ministry of Aviation, December 1938The Ministry of Aviation was a government department during the period of Nazi Germany...

 to Wernher von Braun and Ernst Heinkel, because he had been recognized as one of the most experienced test-pilots of the time, and because he also had an extraordinary fund of technical knowledge. After von Braun familiarized Warsitz with a test-stand run, showing him the corresponding apparatus in the aircraft, he asked:

“Are you with us and will you test the rocket in the air? Then, Warsitz, you will be a famous man. And later we will fly to the moon – with you at the helm!”


In June 1937, at Neuhardenberg
Neuhardenberg
Neuhardenberg is a municipality in the district Märkisch-Oderland, in Brandenburg, Germany. It is the site of Neuhardenberg Palace, residence of the Prussian statesman Prince Karl August von Hardenberg. The municipal area comprises the villages of Altfriedland, Quappendorf and Wulkow...

 (a large field about 70 kilometres east of Berlin
Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

, listed as a reserve airfield in the event of war), one of these latter aircraft was flown with its piston engine shut down during flight by test pilot Erich Warsitz, at which time it was propelled by von Braun’s rocket power alone. Despite the wheels-up landing and having the fuselage on fire, it proved to official circles that an aircraft could be flown satisfactorily with a back-thrust system through the rear.

At the same time, Hellmuth Walter
Hellmuth Walter
Hellmuth Walter was a German engineer who pioneered research into rocket engines and gas turbines...

's experiments into Hydrogen peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is the simplest peroxide and an oxidizer. Hydrogen peroxide is a clear liquid, slightly more viscous than water. In dilute solution, it appears colorless. With its oxidizing properties, hydrogen peroxide is often used as a bleach or cleaning agent...

-based rockets were leading towards light and simple rockets that appeared well-suited for aircraft installation. Also the firm of Hellmuth Walter at Kiel had been commissioned by the RLM to build a rocket engine for the He 112, so there were two different new rocket motor designs at Neuhardenberg: whereas von Braun’s engines were powered by alcohol and liquid oxygen, Walter engines had hydrogen peroxide and calcium permanganate
Calcium permanganate
Calcium permanganate is an oxidizing agent. It consists of the metal calcium and two permanganate ions. It is noncombustible, but it will accelerate the burning of combustible material. If the combustible material is finely divided, the mixture may be explosive. Contact with liquid combustible...

 as a catalyst. Von Braun’s engines used direct combustion and created fire, the Walter devices used hot vapours from a chemical reaction, but both created thrust and provided high speed. The subsequent flights with the He 112 used the Walter-rocket instead of von Braun's; it was more reliable, simpler to operate and the dangers to test-pilot Erich Warsitz and machine were less.

Slave labor

SS General Hans Kammler
Hans Kammler
General Dr Ing. Hans Friedrich Karl Franz Kammler was a civil engineer and high-ranking officer of the SS. He oversaw SS construction projects, and towards the end of World War II was put in charge of the V-2 missile programme.He is most commonly referred to as Heinz Kammler or Hans...

, who as an engineer
Engineer
An engineer is a professional practitioner of engineering, concerned with applying scientific knowledge, mathematics and ingenuity to develop solutions for technical problems. Engineers design materials, structures, machines and systems while considering the limitations imposed by practicality,...

 had constructed several concentration camps including Auschwitz, had a reputation for brutality and had originated the idea of using concentration camp prisoners as slave laborers
Forced labor in Germany during World War II
The use of forced labour in Nazi Germany and throughout German-occupied Europe during World War II took place on an unprecedented scale. It was a vital part of the German economic exploitation of conquered territories. It also contributed to the mass extermination of populations in German-occupied...

 in the rocket program. Arthur Rudolph
Arthur Rudolph
Arthur Louis Hugo Rudolph was a German rocket engineer and member of the Nazi party who played a key role in the development of the V-2 rocket. After World War II he was brought to the United States, subsequently becoming a pioneer of the United States space program. He worked for the U.S...

, chief engineer of the V-2 rocket factory at Peenemünde, endorsed this idea in April 1943 when a labor shortage developed. More people died building the V-2 rockets than were killed by it as a weapon. Von Braun admitted visiting the plant at Mittelwerk
Mittelwerk
Central Works was a World War II factory that used Mittelbau-Dora forced labor in 2 main tunnels in the Kohnstein. The underground facility produced V-2 rockets, V-1 flying bombs, and other Nazi weapons.-Mittelwerk GmbH:...

 on many occasions, and called conditions at the plant "repulsive," but claimed never to have witnessed any deaths or beatings, although it had become clear to him by 1944 that deaths had occurred. He denied ever having visited the Mittelbau-Dora
Mittelbau-Dora
Mittelbau-Dora was a Nazi Germany labour camp that provided workers for the Mittelwerk V-2 rocket factory in the Kohnstein, situated near Nordhausen, Germany....

 concentration camp itself, where 20,000 died from illness, beatings, hangings and intolerable working conditions.

On August 15, 1944, von Braun wrote a letter to Albin Sawatzki, manager of the V-2 production, admitting that he personally picked labor slaves from the Buchenwald concentration camp
Buchenwald concentration camp
Buchenwald concentration camp was a German Nazi concentration camp established on the Ettersberg near Weimar, Germany, in July 1937, one of the first and the largest of the concentration camps on German soil.Camp prisoners from all over Europe and Russia—Jews, non-Jewish Poles and Slovenes,...

, who, he admitted 25 years later in an interview, had been in a "pitiful shape".

In Wernher von Braun: Crusader for Space, numerous statements by von Braun show he was aware of the conditions but felt completely unable to change them. A friend quotes von Braun speaking of a visit to Mittelwerk:

It is hellish. My spontaneous reaction was to talk to one of the SS guards, only to be told with unmistakable harshness that I should mind my own business, or find myself in the same striped fatigues!... I realized that any attempt of reasoning on humane grounds would be utterly futile. (Page 44)


When asked if von Braun could have protested against the brutal treatment of the slave laborers, von Braun team member Konrad Dannenberg
Konrad Dannenberg
Konrad Dannenberg was a German-American rocket pioneer and member of the German rocket team brought to the United States after World War II.-Early years:...

 told The Huntsville Times, "If he had done it, in my opinion, he would have been shot on the spot."

Others claim von Braun engaged in brutal treatment or approved of it. Guy Morand, a French resistance fighter who was a prisoner in Dora, testified in 1995 that after an apparent sabotage attempt:

Without even listening to my explanations, [von Braun] ordered the Meister to have me given 25 strokes...Then, judging that the strokes weren't sufficiently hard, he ordered I be flogged more vigorously...von Braun made me translate that I deserved much more, that in fact I deserved to be hanged...I would say his cruelty, of which I was personally a victim, are, I would say, an eloquent testimony to his Nazi fanaticism.


Robert Cazabonne, another French prisoner, testified that von Braun stood by and watched as prisoners were hung by chains from hoists. Von Braun claimed he "never saw any kind of abuse or killing" and only "heard rumors...that some prisoners had been hanged in the underground galleries".

Arrest and release by the Nazi regime

According to André Sellier, a French historian and survivor of the Mittelbau-Dora
Mittelbau-Dora
Mittelbau-Dora was a Nazi Germany labour camp that provided workers for the Mittelwerk V-2 rocket factory in the Kohnstein, situated near Nordhausen, Germany....

 concentration camp, Himmler had von Braun come to his Hochwald
Hochwald
Hochwald may refer to:* Hochwald, Switzerland, district of Dorneck in the canton of Solothurn* Hochwald , Saxony, southeastern Germany* Hochwald, a peak in the Hunsrück in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany...

 HQ in East Prussia
East Prussia
East Prussia is the main part of the region of Prussia along the southeastern Baltic Coast from the 13th century to the end of World War II in May 1945. From 1772–1829 and 1878–1945, the Province of East Prussia was part of the German state of Prussia. The capital city was Königsberg.East Prussia...

 in February 1944. To increase his power-base within the Nazi régime, Heinrich Himmler was conspiring to use Kammler to gain control of all German armament programs, including the V-2 program at Peenemünde. He therefore recommended that von Braun work more closely with Kammler to solve the problems of the V-2, but von Braun claimed to have replied that the problems were merely technical and he was confident that they would be solved with Dornberger's assistance.

Apparently von Braun had been under SD
Sicherheitsdienst
Sicherheitsdienst , full title Sicherheitsdienst des Reichsführers-SS, or SD, was the intelligence agency of the SS and the Nazi Party in Nazi Germany. The organization was the first Nazi Party intelligence organization to be established and was often considered a "sister organization" with the...

 surveillance since October 1943. A report stated that he and his colleagues Riedel
Klaus Riedel
Klaus Riedel was a German rocket pioneer. He was involved in many early liquid-fuelled rocket experiments, and eventually worked on the V-2 missile programme at Peenemünde....

 and Gröttrup
Helmut Gröttrup
Helmut Gröttrup was a German electrical engineer and assistant of Wernher von Braun in the V-2 rocket-project. Gröttrup was responsible for the guidance system....

 were said to have expressed regret at an engineer's house one evening that they were not working on a spaceship and that they felt the war was not going well; this was considered a "defeatist" attitude. A young female dentist who was an SS spy reported their comments. Combined with Himmler's false charges that von Braun was a communist
Communism
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

 sympathizer and had attempted to sabotage the V-2 program, and considering that von Braun was a qualified pilot who regularly piloted his government-provided airplane that might allow him to escape to England, this led to his arrest by the Gestapo
Gestapo
The Gestapo was the official secret police of Nazi Germany. Beginning on 20 April 1934, it was under the administration of the SS leader Heinrich Himmler in his position as Chief of German Police...

.

The unsuspecting von Braun was detained on March 14 (or March 15), 1944 and was taken to a Gestapo cell in Stettin
Szczecin
Szczecin , is the capital city of the West Pomeranian Voivodeship in Poland. It is the country's seventh-largest city and the largest seaport in Poland on the Baltic Sea. As of June 2009 the population was 406,427....

 (now Szczecin, Poland), where he was imprisoned for two weeks without even knowing the charges against him. It was only through the Abwehr
Abwehr
The Abwehr was a German military intelligence organisation from 1921 to 1944. The term Abwehr was used as a concession to Allied demands that Germany's post-World War I intelligence activities be for "defensive" purposes only...

 in Berlin
Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

 that Dornberger was able to obtain von Braun's conditional release and Albert Speer
Albert Speer
Albert Speer, born Berthold Konrad Hermann Albert Speer, was a German architect who was, for a part of World War II, Minister of Armaments and War Production for the Third Reich. Speer was Adolf Hitler's chief architect before assuming ministerial office...

, Reichsminister for Munitions and War Production, convinced Hitler to reinstate von Braun so that the V-2 program could continue. Quoting from the "Führerprotokoll" (the minutes of Hitler's meetings) dated May 13, 1944 in his memoirs, Speer later relayed what Hitler had finally conceded: "In the matter concerning B. I will guarantee you that he will be exempt from persecution as long as he is indispensable for you, in spite of the difficult general consequences this will have."

Surrender to the Americans

The Soviet Army
Soviet Army
The Soviet Army is the name given to the main part of the Armed Forces of the Soviet Union between 1946 and 1992. Previously, it had been known as the Red Army. Informally, Армия referred to all the MOD armed forces, except, in some cases, the Soviet Navy.This article covers the Soviet Ground...

 was about 160 km from Peenemünde
Peenemünde
The Peenemünde Army Research Center was founded in 1937 as one of five military proving grounds under the Army Weapons Office ....

 in the spring of 1945 when von Braun assembled his planning staff and asked them to decide how and to whom they should surrender. Afraid of the well known Soviet cruelty to prisoners of war, von Braun and his staff decided to try to surrender to the Americans. Kammler had ordered relocation of von Braun's team to central Germany; however, a conflicting order from an army chief ordered them to join the army and fight. Deciding that Kammler's order was their best bet to defect to the Americans, von Braun fabricated documents and transported 500 of his affiliates to the area around Mittelwerk, where they resumed their work. For fear of their documents being destroyed by the SS, von Braun ordered the blueprints to be hidden in an abandoned mine shaft in the Harz
Harz
The Harz is the highest mountain range in northern Germany and its rugged terrain extends across parts of Lower Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia. The name Harz derives from the Middle High German word Hardt or Hart , latinized as Hercynia. The legendary Brocken is the highest summit in the Harz...

 mountain range.

While on an official trip in March, von Braun suffered a complicated fracture of his left arm and shoulder after his driver fell asleep at the wheel. His injuries were serious, but he insisted that his arm be set in a cast so he could leave the hospital. Due to this neglect of the injury he had to be hospitalized again a month later where his bones had to be re-broken and re-aligned.

In April, as the Allied forces advanced deeper into Germany, Kammler ordered the science team to be moved by train into the town of Oberammergau
Oberammergau
Oberammergau is a municipality in the district of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, in Bavaria, Germany. The town is famous for its production of a Passion Play, its woodcarvers, and the NATO School.-Passion Play:...

 in the Bavarian Alps where they were closely guarded by the SS with orders to execute the team if they were about to fall into enemy hands. However, von Braun managed to convince SS Major Kummer to order the dispersion of the group into nearby villages so that they would not be an easy target for U.S. bombers.

On May 2, 1945, upon finding an American private from the U.S. 44th Infantry Division, von Braun's brother and fellow rocket engineer, Magnus, approached the soldier on a bicycle, calling out in broken English: "My name is Magnus von Braun. My brother invented the V-2. We want to surrender." After the surrender, von Braun spoke to the press:
"We knew that we had created a new means of warfare, and the question as to what nation, to what victorious nation we were willing to entrust this brainchild of ours was a moral decision more than anything else. We wanted to see the world spared another conflict such as Germany had just been through, and we felt that only by surrendering such a weapon to people who are guided by the Bible could such an assurance to the world be best secured.”


The American high command was well aware of how important their catch was: von Braun had been at the top of the Black List, the code name for the list of German scientists and engineers targeted for immediate interrogation by U.S. military experts. On June 19, 1945, two days before the scheduled handover of the area to the Soviets, US Army Major Robert B. Staver, Chief of the Jet Propulsion Section of the Research and Intelligence Branch of the U.S. Army Ordnance Corps in London, and Lt Col R. L. Williams took von Braun and his department chiefs by jeep from Garmisch to Munich. The group was flown to Nordhausen
Nordhausen
Nordhausen is a town at the southern edge of the Harz Mountains, in the state of Thuringia, Germany. It is the capital of the district of Nordhausen...

, and was evacuated 40 miles (64.4 km) southwest to Witzenhausen
Witzenhausen
Witzenhausen is a small town in the Werra-Meißner-Kreis in northeastern Hesse, Germany.It was granted town rights in 1225, and until 1974, it was a district seat....

, a small town in the American Zone, the next day. Von Braun was briefly detained at the "Dustbin" interrogation center at Kransberg Castle
Kransberg Castle
Kransberg Castle is situated on a steep rock near Kransberg , a village with about 800 inhabitants in the Taunus mountains in the German province of Hesse. The medieval building, which acquired its current appearance in the late 19th century, served military and intelligence purposes in World War...

 where the elite of the Third Reich's economy, science and technology were debriefed by U.S. and British intelligence officials. Initially he was recruited to the U.S. under a program called "Operation Overcast," subsequently known as Operation Paperclip
Operation Paperclip
Operation Paperclip was the Office of Strategic Services program used to recruit the scientists of Nazi Germany for employment by the United States in the aftermath of World War II...

.

U.S. Army career

On June 20, 1945, the U.S. Secretary of State
United States Secretary of State
The United States Secretary of State is the head of the United States Department of State, concerned with foreign affairs. The Secretary is a member of the Cabinet and the highest-ranking cabinet secretary both in line of succession and order of precedence...

 approved the transfer of von Braun and his specialists to America; however this was not announced to the public until October 1, 1945. Von Braun was among those scientists for whom the U.S. Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency created false employment histories and expunged Nazi Party memberships and regime affiliations from the public record. Once “bleached” of their Nazism, the US Government granted the scientists security clearance to work in the United States. "Paperclip," the project’s operational name, derived from the paperclips used to attach the scientists’ new political personæ to their “US Government Scientist” personnel files.

The first seven technicians arrived in the United States at New Castle Army Air Field, just south of Wilmington
Wilmington, Delaware
Wilmington is the largest city in the state of Delaware, United States, and is located at the confluence of the Christina River and Brandywine Creek, near where the Christina flows into the Delaware River. It is the county seat of New Castle County and one of the major cities in the Delaware Valley...

, Delaware, on September 20, 1945. They were then flown to Boston
Boston
Boston is the capital of and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. The city proper had...

 and taken by boat to the Army Intelligence Service post at Fort Strong
Fort Strong
Fort Strong is located on Long Island in Boston Harbor.It was originally named Long Island Military Reservation until 1899.Camp Wightman, a Civil War training camp, was located on the island in 1861....

 in Boston Harbor
Boston Harbor
Boston Harbor is a natural harbor and estuary of Massachusetts Bay, and is located adjacent to the city of Boston, Massachusetts. It is home to the Port of Boston, a major shipping facility in the northeast.-History:...

. Later, with the exception of von Braun, the men were transferred to Aberdeen Proving Ground
Aberdeen Proving Ground
Aberdeen Proving Ground is a United States Army facility located near Aberdeen, Maryland, . Part of the facility is a census-designated place , which had a population of 3,116 at the 2000 census.- History :...

 in Maryland
Maryland
Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east...

 to sort out the Peenemünde documents, enabling the scientists to continue their rocketry experiments.

Finally, von Braun and his remaining Peenemünde staff (see List of German rocket scientists in the United States) were transferred to their new home at Fort Bliss
Fort Bliss
Fort Bliss is a United States Army post in the U.S. states of New Mexico and Texas. With an area of about , it is the Army's second-largest installation behind the adjacent White Sands Missile Range. It is FORSCOM's largest installation, and has the Army's largest Maneuver Area behind the...

, a large Army installation just north of El Paso
El Paso, Texas
El Paso, is a city in and the county seat of El Paso County, Texas, United States, and lies in far West Texas. In the 2010 census, the city had a population of 649,121. It is the sixth largest city in Texas and the 19th largest city in the United States...

. Von Braun would later write he found it hard to develop a "genuine emotional attachment" to his new surroundings. His chief design engineer Walther Reidel became the subject of a December 1946 article "German Scientist Says American Cooking Tasteless; Dislikes Rubberized Chicken,' exposing the presence of von Braun's team in the country and drawing criticism from Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein was a German-born theoretical physicist who developed the theory of general relativity, effecting a revolution in physics. For this achievement, Einstein is often regarded as the father of modern physics and one of the most prolific intellects in human history...

 and John Dingell
John D. Dingell, Sr.
John David Dingell, Sr. was an American politician who represented Michigan's 15th congressional district from 1933 to 1955.-Life and career:Dingell was born in Detroit...

. Requests to improve their living conditions such as laying linoleum over their cracked wood flooring were rejected. Von Braun remarked that "...at Peenemünde we had been coddled, here you were counting pennies..." At the age of 26, von Braun had thousands of engineers who answered to him, but was now answering to "pimply" 26 year-old Major Jim Hamill who possessed an undergraduate degree in engineering. His loyal Germans still addressed him as Herr Professor, but Hamill addressed him as Wernher and never bothered to respond to von Braun's request for more materials, and every proposal for new rocket ideas were dismissed.

While there, they trained military, industrial and university personnel in the intricacies of rockets and guided missiles. As part of the Hermes project
Hermes project
The Hermes project was an United States Army Ordnance Corps rocket program ....

 they helped to refurbish, assemble and launch a number of V-2s that had been shipped from Germany to the White Sands Proving Ground in New Mexico
New Mexico
New Mexico is a state located in the southwest and western regions of the United States. New Mexico is also usually considered one of the Mountain States. With a population density of 16 per square mile, New Mexico is the sixth-most sparsely inhabited U.S...

. They also continued to study the future potential of rockets for military and research applications. Since they were not permitted to leave Fort Bliss without military escort, von Braun and his colleagues began to refer to themselves only half-jokingly as "PoPs," "Prisoners of Peace."

In 1950, at the start of the Korean War
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

, von Braun and his team were transferred to Huntsville, Alabama
Huntsville, Alabama
Huntsville is a city located primarily in Madison County in the central part of the far northern region of the U.S. state of Alabama. Huntsville is the county seat of Madison County. The city extends west into neighboring Limestone County. Huntsville's population was 180,105 as of the 2010 Census....

, his home for the next 20 years. Between 1950 and 1956, von Braun led the Army's rocket development team at Redstone Arsenal
Redstone Arsenal
Redstone Arsenal is a United States Army base and a census-designated place adjacent to Huntsville in Madison County, Alabama, United States and is part of the Huntsville-Decatur Combined Statistical Area...

, resulting in the Redstone rocket
Redstone (rocket)
The PGM-11 Redstone was the first large American ballistic missile. A short-range surface-to-surface rocket, it was in active service with the U.S. Army in West Germany from June 1958 to June 1964 as part of NATO's Cold War defense of Western Europe...

, which was used for the first live nuclear ballistic missile
Ballistic missile
A ballistic missile is a missile that follows a sub-orbital ballistic flightpath with the objective of delivering one or more warheads to a predetermined target. The missile is only guided during the relatively brief initial powered phase of flight and its course is subsequently governed by the...

 tests conducted by the United States. This led to development of the first high-precision inertial guidance system on the Redstone rocket
Redstone (rocket)
The PGM-11 Redstone was the first large American ballistic missile. A short-range surface-to-surface rocket, it was in active service with the U.S. Army in West Germany from June 1958 to June 1964 as part of NATO's Cold War defense of Western Europe...

.

As director of the Development Operations Division of the Army Ballistic Missile Agency
Army Ballistic Missile Agency
The Army Ballistic Missile Agency was the agency formed to develop the US Army's first intermediate range ballistic missile. It was established at Redstone Arsenal on February 1, 1956 and commanded by Major General John B...

 (ABMA), von Braun, with his team, then developed the Jupiter-C
Jupiter-C
The Jupiter-C was an American sounding rocket used for three sub-orbital spaceflights in 1956 and 1957 to test re-entry nosecones that were later to be deployed on the more advanced PGM-19 Jupiter mobile missile....

, a modified Redstone rocket. The Jupiter-C successfully launched the West's first satellite, Explorer 1, on January 31, 1958. This event signaled the birth of America's space program.

Despite the work on the Redstone rocket, the twelve years from 1945 to 1957 were probably some of the most frustrating for von Braun and his colleagues. In the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

, Sergei Korolev and his team of scientists and engineers plowed ahead with several new rocket designs and the Sputnik program, while the American government was not very interested in von Braun's work or views and only embarked on a very modest rocket-building program. In the meantime, the press tended to dwell on von Braun's past as a member of the SS and the slave labor used to build his V-2 rockets.

Popular concepts for a human presence in space

Repeating the pattern he had established during his earlier career in Germany, von Braun – while directing military rocket development in the real world – continued to entertain his engineer-scientist's dream of a future world in which rockets would be used for space exploration
Space exploration
Space exploration is the use of space technology to explore outer space. Physical exploration of space is conducted both by human spaceflights and by robotic spacecraft....

. However, instead of risking being sacked, he now was increasingly in a position to popularize these ideas. The May 14, 1950 headline of The Huntsville Times
The Huntsville Times
The Huntsville Times is the daily morning newspaper published in Huntsville, Alabama, and also serves the surrounding areas of north Alabama's Tennessee Valley region. The Times formerly operated as an afternoon paper, but moved to mornings after The Huntsville News ceased publication...

("Dr. von Braun Says Rocket Flights Possible to Moon") might have marked the beginning of these efforts. These disclosures rode a moonflight publicity wave that was created by the two 1950 U.S. science fiction films, Destination Moon
Destination Moon (film)
Destination Moon is an American science fiction feature film produced by George Pal, who later produced When Worlds Collide, The War of the Worlds, and The Time Machine. Pal commissioned the script by James O'Hanlon and Rip Van Ronkel...

and Rocketship X-M
Rocketship X-M
Rocketship X-M was the second of the American science fiction feature films of the space adventure genre begun in the post-war era, in 1950...

.

In 1952, von Braun first published his concept of a manned space station
Space station
A space station is a spacecraft capable of supporting a crew which is designed to remain in space for an extended period of time, and to which other spacecraft can dock. A space station is distinguished from other spacecraft used for human spaceflight by its lack of major propulsion or landing...

 in a Collier's Weekly
Collier's Weekly
Collier's Weekly was an American magazine founded by Peter Fenelon Collier and published from 1888 to 1957. With the passage of decades, the title was shortened to Collier's....

magazine series of articles entitled "Man Will Conquer Space Soon!
Man Will Conquer Space Soon!
Man Will Conquer Space Soon! was the title of a famous series of 1950s magazine articles in Collier's detailing Wernher von Braun's plans for manned spaceflight. Edited by Cornelius Ryan, the individual articles were authored by such space notables of the time as Willy Ley, Fred Lawrence Whipple,...

". These articles were illustrated by the space artist Chesley Bonestell
Chesley Bonestell
Chesley Bonestell was an American painter, designer and illustrator. His paintings were a major influence on science fiction art and illustration, and he helped inspire the American space program...

 and were influential in spreading his ideas. Frequently von Braun worked with fellow German-born space advocate and science writer Willy Ley
Willy Ley
Willy Ley was a German-American science writer and space advocate who helped popularize rocketry and spaceflight in both Germany and the United States. The crater Ley on the far side of the Moon is named in his honor.-Life:...

 to publish his concepts, which, unsurprisingly, were heavy on the engineering side and anticipated many technical aspects of space flight that later became reality.

The space station (to be constructed using rockets with recoverable and reusable ascent stages) would be a toroid
Stanford torus
The Stanford torus is a proposed design for a space habitat capable of housing 10,000 to 140,000 permanent residents.The Stanford Torus was proposed during the 1975 NASA Summer Study, conducted at Stanford University, with the purpose of speculating on designs for future space colonies...

 structure, with a diameter of 250 feet (76 m). The space station would spin around a central docking nave to provide artificial gravity
Artificial gravity
Artificial gravity is the varying of apparent gravity via artificial means, particularly in space, but also on the Earth...

, and would be assembled in a 1,075 mile (1,730 km) two-hour, high-inclination Earth orbit allowing observation of essentially every point on earth on at least a daily basis. The ultimate purpose of the space station would be to provide an assembly platform for manned lunar
Moon
The Moon is Earth's only known natural satellite,There are a number of near-Earth asteroids including 3753 Cruithne that are co-orbital with Earth: their orbits bring them close to Earth for periods of time but then alter in the long term . These are quasi-satellites and not true moons. For more...

 expeditions. The notion of a rotating wheel-shaped station
Rotating wheel space station
A rotating wheel space station is a hypothetical wheel-shaped space station that could create artificial gravity by rotating. If the station were rotated, inertia and the centripetal force would cause objects to press against the outer rim of the "wheel"; in the rotating frame of reference of the...

 was introduced in 1929 by Herman Potočnik
Herman Potocnik
Herman Potočnik was an Austro-Hungarian rocket engineer and pioneer of cosmonautics . He is chiefly remembered for his work addressing the long-term human habitation of space.- Early life :Potočnik was born in Pola, southern Istria, Austria-Hungary...

 in his book The Problem of Space Travel - The Rocket Motor. More than a decade later, the movie version of 2001: A Space Odyssey
2001: A Space Odyssey (film)
2001: A Space Odyssey is a 1968 epic science fiction film produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick, and co-written by Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke, partially inspired by Clarke's short story The Sentinel...

 would draw heavily on the design concept in its visualization of an orbital space station.

Von Braun envisaged these expeditions as very large-scale undertakings, with a total of 50 astronauts travelling in three huge spacecraft (two for crew, one primarily for cargo), each 49 m (160.76 ft) long and 33 m (108.27 ft) in diameter and driven by a rectangular array of 30 rocket propulsion engines. Upon arrival, astronauts would establish a permanent lunar base
Colonization of the Moon
The colonization of the Moon is the proposed establishment of permanent human communities on the Moon. Advocates of space exploration have seen settlement of the Moon as a logical step in the expansion of humanity beyond the Earth. Recent indication that water might be present in noteworthy...

 in the Sinus Roris
Sinus Roris
Sinus Roris is an extension of the northern edge of Oceanus Procellarum on the Moon. The IAU-defined selenographic coordinates of this bay are 54.0° N, 56.6° W, and the diameter is 202 km....

 region by using the emptied cargo holds of their craft as shelters, and would explore their surroundings for eight weeks. This would include a 400 km expedition in pressurized rovers to the crater Harpalus
Harpalus (crater)
Harpalus is a young lunar impact crater that lies on the Mare Frigoris, at the eastern edge of the Sinus Roris. To the southeast at the edge of the mare is the small crater Foucault, and to the northwest on the opposite edge is the walled plain named South....

 and the Mare Imbrium
Mare Imbrium
Mare Imbrium, Latin for "Sea of Showers" or "Sea of Rains", is a vast lunar mare filling a basin on Earth's Moon and one of the larger craters in the Solar System. Mare Imbrium was created when lava flooded the giant crater formed when a very large object hit the Moon long ago...

 foothills.

At this time von Braun also worked out preliminary concepts for a manned mission to Mars
Manned mission to Mars
A manned mission to Mars has been the subject of science fiction, engineering, and scientific proposals throughout the 20th century and into the 21st century...

 that used the space station as a staging point. His initial plans, published in The Mars Project
The Mars Project
The Mars Project is a nonfiction science book by German rocket physicist, astronautics engineer and space architect, Wernher von Braun. It was translated from the original German by Henry J. White and first published in English by the University of Illinois Press in 1953.The Mars Project is a...

(1952), had envisaged a fleet of ten spacecraft (each with a mass of 3,720 metric tons), three of them unmanned and each carrying one 200-ton winged lander in addition to cargo, and nine crew vehicles transporting a total of 70 astronauts. Gigantic as this mission plan was, its engineering and astronautical parameters were thoroughly calculated. A later project was much more modest, using only one purely orbital cargo ship and one crewed craft. In each case, the expedition would use minimum-energy Hohmann transfer orbit
Hohmann transfer orbit
In orbital mechanics, the Hohmann transfer orbit is an elliptical orbit used to transfer between two circular orbits, typically both in the same plane....

s for its trips to Mars and back to Earth.

Before technically formalizing his thoughts on human spaceflight
Spaceflight
Spaceflight is the act of travelling into or through outer space. Spaceflight can occur with spacecraft which may, or may not, have humans on board. Examples of human spaceflight include the Russian Soyuz program, the U.S. Space shuttle program, as well as the ongoing International Space Station...

 to Mars
Mars
Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun in the Solar System. The planet is named after the Roman god of war, Mars. It is often described as the "Red Planet", as the iron oxide prevalent on its surface gives it a reddish appearance...

, von Braun had written a science fiction
Science fiction
Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities...

 novel, set in 1980, on the subject. According to his biographer, Erik Bergaust, the manuscript was rejected by no less than 18 publishers. Von Braun later published small portions of this opus in magazines, to illustrate selected aspects of his Mars project popularizations. The complete manuscript, titled Project MARS: A Technical Tale, did not appear as a printed book until December 2006.

In the hope that its involvement would bring about greater public interest in the future of the space program, von Braun also began working with Walt Disney
Walt Disney
Walter Elias "Walt" Disney was an American film producer, director, screenwriter, voice actor, animator, entrepreneur, entertainer, international icon, and philanthropist, well-known for his influence in the field of entertainment during the 20th century. Along with his brother Roy O...

 and the Disney studios
Walt Disney Pictures
Walt Disney Pictures is an American film studio owned by The Walt Disney Company. Walt Disney Pictures and Television, a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Studios and the main production company for live-action feature films within the Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group, based at the Walt Disney...

 as a technical director, initially for three television films about space exploration. The initial broadcast devoted to space exploration was Man in Space
Man in Space
Man in Space is an episode of Disneyland which originally aired on March 9, 1955. It was directed by Disney animator Ward Kimball. Later, it was edited into a featurette to play in theaters, accompanying Davy Crockett and the River Pirates. This Disneyland episode , was narrated partly by Kimball...

, which first went on air on March 9, 1955, drawing 42 million viewers and unofficially the second-highest rated television show in American history.

Later (in 1959) von Braun published a short booklet -- condensed from episodes that had appeared in This Week Magazine before—describing his updated concept of the first manned lunar landing. The scenario included only a single and relatively small spacecraft—a winged lander with a crew of only two experienced pilots who had already circumnavigated the moon on an earlier mission. The brute-force direct ascent
Direct ascent
Direct ascent was a proposed method for a mission to the Moon. In the United States, direct ascent proposed using the enormous Nova rocket to launch a spacecraft directly to the Moon, where it would land tail-first and then launch off the Moon back to Earth...

 flight schedule used a rocket design with five sequential stages, loosely based on the Nova designs that were under discussion at this time. After a night launch from a Pacific island the first three stages would bring the spacecraft (with the two remaining upper stages attached) to terrestrial escape velocity
Escape velocity
In physics, escape velocity is the speed at which the kinetic energy plus the gravitational potential energy of an object is zero gravitational potential energy is negative since gravity is an attractive force and the potential is defined to be zero at infinity...

, with each burn creating an acceleration of 8-9 times standard gravity
Standard gravity
Standard gravity, or standard acceleration due to free fall, usually denoted by g0 or gn, is the nominal acceleration of an object in a vacuum near the surface of the Earth. It is defined as precisely , or about...

. Residual propellant in the third stage would be used for the deceleration intended to commence only a few hundred kilometers above the landing site in a crater near the lunar north pole. The fourth stage provided acceleration to lunar escape velocity while the fifth stage would be responsible for a deceleration during return to the Earth to a residual speed that allows aerocapture
Aerocapture
Aerocapture is a technique used to reduce velocity of a spacecraft, arriving at a celestial body with a hyperbolic trajectory, in order to bring it in an orbit with an eccentricity of less than 1. It uses the drag created by the atmosphere of the celestial body to decelerate. Only one pass in the...

 of the spacecraft ending in a runway landing, much in the way of the Space Shuttle
Space Shuttle
The Space Shuttle was a manned orbital rocket and spacecraft system operated by NASA on 135 missions from 1981 to 2011. The system combined rocket launch, orbital spacecraft, and re-entry spaceplane with modular add-ons...

. One remarkable feature of this technical tale is that the engineer Wernher von Braun anticipated a medical phenomenon that would become apparent only years later: being a veteran astronaut with no history of serious adverse reactions to weightlessness
Weightlessness
Weightlessness is the condition that exists for an object or person when they experience little or no acceleration except the acceleration that defines their inertial trajectory, or the trajectory of pure free-fall...

 offers no protection against becoming unexpectedly and violently spacesick.

Concepts for orbital warfare

Von Braun developed and published his space station concept during the very "coldest" time of the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

, when the U.S. government for which he worked put the containment of the Soviet Union above everything else. The fact that his space station – if armed with missiles that could be easily adapted from those already available at this time – would give the United States space superiority in both orbital and orbit-to-ground warfare did not escape him. Although von Braun took care to qualify such military applications as "particularly dreadful" in his popular writings, he elaborated on them in several of his books and articles. This much less peaceful aspect of von Braun's "drive for space" has recently been reviewed by Michael J. Neufeld from the Space History Division of the National Air and Space Museum
National Air and Space Museum
The National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution holds the largest collection of historic aircraft and spacecraft in the world. It was established in 1976. Located in Washington, D.C., United States, it is a center for research into the history and science of aviation and...

 in Washington.

NASA career

The U.S. Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

 had been tasked with building a rocket to lift satellites into orbit, but the resulting Vanguard rocket
Vanguard rocket
The Vanguard rocket was intended to be the first launch vehicle the United States would use to place a satellite into orbit. Instead, the Sputnik crisis caused by the surprise launch of Sputnik 1 led the U.S., after the failure of Vanguard TV3, to quickly orbit the Explorer 1 satellite using a Juno...

 launch system was unreliable. In 1957, with the launch of Sputnik 1
Sputnik 1
Sputnik 1 ) was the first artificial satellite to be put into Earth's orbit. It was launched into an elliptical low Earth orbit by the Soviet Union on 4 October 1957. The unanticipated announcement of Sputnik 1s success precipitated the Sputnik crisis in the United States and ignited the Space...

, there was a growing belief within the United States that America lagged behind the Soviet Union in the emerging Space Race
Space Race
The Space Race was a mid-to-late 20th century competition between the Soviet Union and the United States for supremacy in space exploration. Between 1957 and 1975, Cold War rivalry between the two nations focused on attaining firsts in space exploration, which were seen as necessary for national...

. American authorities then chose to utilize von Braun and his German team's experience with missiles to create an orbital launch vehicle, something von Braun had originally proposed in 1954 but had been denied.

NASA was established by law on July 29, 1958. One day later, the 50th Redstone rocket was successfully launched from Johnston Atoll
Johnston Atoll
Johnston Atoll is a atoll in the North Pacific Ocean about west of Hawaii. There are four islands located on the coral reef platform, two natural islands, Johnston Island and Sand Island, which have been expanded by coral dredging, as well as North Island and East Island , an additional two...

 in the south Pacific as part of Operation Hardtack I
Operation Hardtack I
Operation Hardtack I was a series of 35 nuclear tests conducted by the United States in 1958 in the Pacific Ocean.Operation Newsreel was a series of three high-altitude nuclear tests conducted as part of Hardtack I. The individual tests in the series were Orange‎, Teak‎ and Yucca‎.-Test Blasts:-...

. Two years later, NASA opened the Marshall Space Flight Center at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, and the ABMA development team led by von Braun was transferred to NASA. In a face-to-face meeting with Herb York at the Pentagon, von Braun made it clear he would go to NASA only if development of the Saturn was allowed to continue. Presiding from July 1960 to February 1970, von Braun became the center's first Director.

The Marshall Center's first major program was the development of Saturn rockets to carry heavy payloads into and beyond Earth orbit. From this, the Apollo program for manned moon flights was developed. Wernher von Braun initially pushed for a flight engineering concept that called for an Earth orbit rendezvous
Earth orbit rendezvous
Earth orbit rendezvous is a type of space rendezvous and a spaceflight methodology most notable for enabling round trip human missions to the moon...

 technique (the approach he had argued for building his space station), but in 1962 he converted to the more risky lunar orbit rendezvous
Lunar orbit rendezvous
Lunar orbit rendezvous is a key concept for human landing on the Moon and returning to Earth.In a LOR mission a main spacecraft and a smaller lunar module travel together into lunar orbit. The lunar module then independently descends to the lunar surface. After completion of the mission there, a...

 concept that was subsequently realized. During Apollo, he worked closely with former Peenemünde teammate, Kurt H. Debus
Kurt H. Debus
Kurt Heinrich Debus was a German V-2 rocket scientist during World War II who, after being brought to the United States under Operation Paperclip, became the first director of NASA's Kennedy Space Center in 1962. Debus' U.S...

, the first director of the Kennedy Space Center. His dream to help mankind set foot on the Moon
Moon
The Moon is Earth's only known natural satellite,There are a number of near-Earth asteroids including 3753 Cruithne that are co-orbital with Earth: their orbits bring them close to Earth for periods of time but then alter in the long term . These are quasi-satellites and not true moons. For more...

 became a reality on July 16, 1969 when a Marshall-developed Saturn V
Saturn V
The Saturn V was an American human-rated expendable rocket used by NASA's Apollo and Skylab programs from 1967 until 1973. A multistage liquid-fueled launch vehicle, NASA launched 13 Saturn Vs from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida with no loss of crew or payload...

 rocket launched the crew of Apollo 11
Apollo 11
In early 1969, Bill Anders accepted a job with the National Space Council effective in August 1969 and announced his retirement as an astronaut. At that point Ken Mattingly was moved from the support crew into parallel training with Anders as backup Command Module Pilot in case Apollo 11 was...

on its historic eight-day mission. Over the course of the program, Saturn V rockets enabled six teams of astronauts to reach the surface of the Moon.

During the late 1960s, von Braun was instrumental in the development of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville. The desk from which he guided America's entry in the Space Race remains on display there.

During the local summer of 1966–67, von Braun participated in a field trip to Antarctica, organized for him and several other members of top NASA management. The goal of the field trip was to determine whether the experience gained by US scientific and technological community during the exploration of Antarctic wastelands would be useful for the manned exploration of space. Von Braun was mainly interested in management of the scientific effort on Antarctic research stations, logistics, habitation and life support, and in using the barren Antarctic terrain like the glacial dry valleys to test the equipment that one day would be used to look for signs of life on Mars and other worlds.

In an internal memo dated January 16, 1969, von Braun had confirmed to his staff that he would stay on as a center director at Huntsville to head the Apollo Applications Program
Apollo Applications program
The Apollo Applications Program was established by NASA headquarters in 1968 to develop science-based manned space missions using surplus material from the Apollo program...

. A few months later, on occasion of the first moon-landing, he publicly expressed his optimism that the Saturn V
Saturn V
The Saturn V was an American human-rated expendable rocket used by NASA's Apollo and Skylab programs from 1967 until 1973. A multistage liquid-fueled launch vehicle, NASA launched 13 Saturn Vs from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida with no loss of crew or payload...

 carrier system would continue to be developed, advocating manned missions to Mars
Mars
Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun in the Solar System. The planet is named after the Roman god of war, Mars. It is often described as the "Red Planet", as the iron oxide prevalent on its surface gives it a reddish appearance...

 in the 1980s.

However, on March 1, 1970, von Braun and his family relocated to Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

, when he was assigned the post of NASA's Deputy Associate Administrator for Planning at NASA Headquarters. After a series of conflicts associated with the truncation of the Apollo program, and facing severe budget constraints, von Braun retired from NASA on May 26, 1972. Not only had it become evident by this time that his and NASA's visions for future U.S. space flight projects were incompatible; it was perhaps even more frustrating for him to see popular support for a continued presence of man in space wane dramatically once the goal to reach the moon had been accomplished.
Dr. von Braun also developed the idea of a Space Camp
Space Camp
Space Camp may refer to:*SpaceCamp, 1986 movie starring Joaquin Phoenix...

 that would train children in fields of science and space technologies as well as help their mental development much the same way sports camps aim at improving physical development.

Career after NASA

After leaving NASA, von Braun became Vice President for Engineering and Development at the aerospace company, Fairchild Industries in Germantown, Maryland on July 1, 1972.

In 1973 a routine health check revealed kidney cancer
Renal cell carcinoma
Renal cell carcinoma is a kidney cancer that originates in the lining of the proximal convoluted tubule, the very small tubes in the kidney that filter the blood and remove waste products. RCC is the most common type of kidney cancer in adults, responsible for approximately 80% of cases...

, which during the following years could not be controlled by surgery. Von Braun continued his work to the extent possible, which included accepting invitations to speak at colleges and universities as he was eager to cultivate interest in human spaceflight and rocketry, particularly with students and a new generation of engineers. On one such visit in the spring of 1974 to Allegheny College
Allegheny College
Allegheny College is a private liberal arts college located in northwestern Pennsylvania in the town of Meadville. Founded in 1815, the college has about 2,100 undergraduate students.-Early history:...

, von Braun revealed a more personal side, including an allergy to feather pillows and a disdain for some rock music of the era.

Von Braun helped establish and promote the National Space Institute
National Space Institute
The National Space Institute was a space advocacy group, the first of its kind, established by Dr. Wernher von Braun to help maintain the public's support for the United States space program. It has since merged, in 1987, with the L5 Society founded by Dr. Gerard K...

, a precursor of the present-day National Space Society
National Space Society
The National Space Society is an international nonprofit 501, educational, and scientific organization specializing in space advocacy...

, in 1975, and became its first president and chairman. In 1976, he became scientific consultant to Lutz Kayser, the CEO of OTRAG
OTRAG
OTRAG , was a German company based in Stuttgart, which planned in the late 1970s and early 1980s to develop an alternative propulsion system for rockets. OTRAG was the first commercial developer and producer of space launch vehicles...

, and a member of the Daimler-Benz
Daimler-Benz
Daimler-Benz AG was a German manufacturer of automobiles, motor vehicles, and internal combustion engines; founded in 1926. An Agreement of Mutual Interest - which was valid until year 2000 - was signed on 1 May 1924 between Karl Benz's Benz & Cie., and Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft, which had...

 board of directors. However, his deteriorating health forced him to retire from Fairchild on December 31, 1976. When the 1975 National Medal of Science
National Medal of Science
The National Medal of Science is an honor bestowed by the President of the United States to individuals in science and engineering who have made important contributions to the advancement of knowledge in the fields of behavioral and social sciences, biology, chemistry, engineering, mathematics and...

 was awarded to him in early 1977 he was hospitalized, and unable to attend the White House ceremony.

Personal life

During his stay at Fort Bliss, von Braun mailed a marriage proposal to 18-year-old Maria Luise von Quistorp (born June 10, 1928), his cousin on his mother's side. On March 1, 1947, having received permission to go back to Germany and return with his bride, he married her in a Lutheran church in Landshut
Landshut
Landshut is a city in Bavaria in the south-east of Germany, belonging to both Eastern and Southern Bavaria. Situated on the banks of the River Isar, Landshut is the capital of Lower Bavaria, one of the seven administrative regions of the Free State of Bavaria. It is also the seat of the...

, Germany. He and his bride, as well as his father and mother, returned to New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

 on March 26, 1947.

On 9 December 1948, the von Brauns' first daughter, Iris Careen, was born at Fort Bliss Army Hospital. The von Brauns eventually had two more children, Margrit Cécile on May 8, 1952 and Peter Constantine on June 2, 1960.

On April 15, 1955, von Braun became a naturalized citizen of the United States.

Death

On June 16, 1977, Wernher von Braun died of pancreatic cancer
Pancreatic cancer
Pancreatic cancer refers to a malignant neoplasm of the pancreas. The most common type of pancreatic cancer, accounting for 95% of these tumors is adenocarcinoma, which arises within the exocrine component of the pancreas. A minority arises from the islet cells and is classified as a...

 in Alexandria
Alexandria, Virginia
Alexandria is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia. As of 2009, the city had a total population of 139,966. Located along the Western bank of the Potomac River, Alexandria is approximately six miles south of downtown Washington, D.C.Like the rest of northern Virginia, as well as...

, Virginia, at the age of 65. He was buried at the Ivy Hill Cemetery
Ivy Hill Cemetery
Ivy Hill Cemetery is a cemetery in Alexandria, Virginia, United States. Burials began in 1811, and it received a charter as a community cemetery in 1856....

 in Alexandria
Alexandria, Virginia
Alexandria is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia. As of 2009, the city had a total population of 139,966. Located along the Western bank of the Potomac River, Alexandria is approximately six miles south of downtown Washington, D.C.Like the rest of northern Virginia, as well as...

, Virginia.

Published works

    • The proposed vertical take-off interceptor for climbing to 35,000 ft in 60 seconds was rejected by the Luftwaffe in the autumn of 1941 for the Me 163 Komet and never produced. (The differing Bachem Ba 349
      Bachem Ba 349
      The Bachem Ba 349 Natter was a World War II German point-defence rocket powered interceptor, which was to be used in a very similar way to a manned surface-to-air missile. After vertical take-off, which eliminated the need for airfields, the majority of the flight to the Allied bombers was to be...

       was produced during the 1944 Emergency Fighter Program.)
  • The Mars Project
    The Mars Project
    The Mars Project is a nonfiction science book by German rocket physicist, astronautics engineer and space architect, Wernher von Braun. It was translated from the original German by Henry J. White and first published in English by the University of Illinois Press in 1953.The Mars Project is a...

    , Urbana, University of Illinois Press, (1953). With Henry J. White, translator.
  • First Men to the Moon, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York (1958). Portions of work first appeared in This Week Magazine.
  • History of Rocketry & Space Travel, New York, Crowell (1975). With Frederick I. Ordway III.

}
  • The Rocket's Red Glare, Garden City, N.Y.: Anchor Press, (1976). With Frederick I. Ordway III.
  • Project Mars: A Technical Tale, Apogee Books, Toronto (2006). A previously unpublished science fiction story by von Braun. Accompanied by paintings from Chesley Bonestell
    Chesley Bonestell
    Chesley Bonestell was an American painter, designer and illustrator. His paintings were a major influence on science fiction art and illustration, and he helped inspire the American space program...

     and von Braun's own technical papers on the proposed project.
  • The Voice of Dr. Wernher von Braun, Apogee Books, Toronto (2007). A collection of speeches delivered by von Braun over the course of his career.
  • Wernher von Braun, Crusader for Space, A Biographical Memoir, Ernst Stuhlinger and Fredrick I. Ordway III, Krieger ISBN 0-89464-842-X. Two volumes on the life of von Braun,

Recognition and critique

  • Apollo space program director Sam Phillips was quoted as saying that he did not think that America would have reached the moon as quickly as it did without von Braun's help. Later, after discussing it with colleagues, he amended this to say that he did not believe America would have reached the moon at all.
  • The crater von Braun
    Von Braun (crater)
    von Braun, named after the rocket pioneer Wernher von Braun, is a lunar crater located near the northwestern limb of the Moon. It lies along the western edge of the Oceanus Procellarum, to the northeast of the crater Lavoisier. The northeastern rim of this crater is on the edge of the Sinus Roris,...

     on the Moon is named after him.
  • Von Braun received a total of 12 honorary doctorates, among them, on January 8, 1963, one from the Technical University of Berlin
    Technical University of Berlin
    The Technische Universität Berlin is a research university located in Berlin, Germany. Translating the name into English is discouraged by the university, however paraphrasing as Berlin Institute of Technology is recommended by the university if necessary .The TU Berlin was founded...

     from which he had graduated.
  • Von Braun was responsible for the creation of the Research Institute at the University of Alabama in Huntsville
    University of Alabama in Huntsville
    The University of Alabama in Huntsville is a state-supported, public, coeducational research university, located in Huntsville, Alabama, United States, is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award baccalaureate, master's and doctoral degrees, and is organized in five...

    . As a result of his vision, the university is one of the leading universities in the nation for NASA-sponsored research. The building housing the university's Research Institute was named in his honor, Von Braun Research Hall, in 2000.
  • Several German cities (Bonn
    Bonn
    Bonn is the 19th largest city in Germany. Located in the Cologne/Bonn Region, about 25 kilometres south of Cologne on the river Rhine in the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, it was the capital of West Germany from 1949 to 1990 and the official seat of government of united Germany from 1990 to 1999....

    , Neu-Isenburg
    Neu-Isenburg
    The “Huguenot Town” of Neu-Isenburg with its outlying centres of Gravenbruch and Zeppelinheim is found in the Offenbach district in the Regierungsbezirk of Darmstadt in Hesse, Germany, right near Frankfurt am Main...

    , Mannheim
    Mannheim
    Mannheim is a city in southwestern Germany. With about 315,000 inhabitants, Mannheim is the second-largest city in the Bundesland of Baden-Württemberg, following the capital city of Stuttgart....

    , Mainz
    Mainz
    Mainz under the Holy Roman Empire, and previously was a Roman fort city which commanded the west bank of the Rhine and formed part of the northernmost frontier of the Roman Empire...

    ), and dozens of smaller towns have named streets after Wernher von Braun.
  • The Von Braun Center
    Von Braun Center
    The Von Braun Center , known as the Von Braun Civic Center until 1997, is a multi-purpose indoor arena, meeting, and performing arts complex, with a maximum arena seating capacity of 10,000, located in Huntsville, Alabama...

     (built 1975) in Huntsville is named in von Braun's honor.
  • Scrutiny of von Braun's use of forced labor at the Mittelwerk intensified again in 1984 when Arthur Rudolph
    Arthur Rudolph
    Arthur Louis Hugo Rudolph was a German rocket engineer and member of the Nazi party who played a key role in the development of the V-2 rocket. After World War II he was brought to the United States, subsequently becoming a pioneer of the United States space program. He worked for the U.S...

    , one of his top affiliates from the A-4/V2 through to the Apollo projects, left the United States and was forced to renounce his citizenship in place of the alternative of being tried for war crimes.
  • A science- and engineering-oriented Gymnasium
    Gymnasium (school)
    A gymnasium is a type of school providing secondary education in some parts of Europe, comparable to English grammar schools or sixth form colleges and U.S. college preparatory high schools. The word γυμνάσιον was used in Ancient Greece, meaning a locality for both physical and intellectual...

     in Friedberg, Bavaria
    Friedberg, Bavaria
    Friedberg is a city in the district Aichach-Friedberg, Bavaria, Germany, with some 30,000 inhabitants. It is located next to Augsburg at the Lech river...

     was named after Wernher von Braun in 1979. In response to rising criticism, a school committee decided in 1995, after lengthy deliberations, to keep the name but "to address von Braun's ambiguity in the advanced history classes."
  • An avenue in the Annadale section of Staten Island
    Staten Island
    Staten Island is a borough of New York City, New York, United States, located in the southwest part of the city. Staten Island is separated from New Jersey by the Arthur Kill and the Kill Van Kull, and from the rest of New York by New York Bay...

    , New York was named for him in 1977.
  • Von Braun's engineering approach was very conservative, building in additional strength to structure designs, a point of contention with other engineers who struggled to keep vehicle weight down. Von Braun's insistence on further tests after Mercury-Redstone 2
    Mercury-Redstone 2
    Mercury-Redstone 2 was an American space mission, launched at 16:55 UTC on January 31, 1961 from LC-5 at Cape Canaveral, Florida. Mercury spacecraft No...

     flew higher than planned, has been identified as contributing to the Soviet Union's success in launching the first human in space
    Yuri Gagarin
    Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin was a Soviet pilot and cosmonaut. He was the first human to journey into outer space, when his Vostok spacecraft completed an orbit of the Earth on April 12, 1961....

    .

Dates of rank

  • SS-Anwärter
    Anwärter
    Anwärter is a German title which translates as “Candidate”. In modern day Germany, the title of Anwärter is typically used by those applying for employment and also as a designation for members of the Bundeswehr who are under consideration for a leadership assignment.During the Third Reich,...

    : November 1, 1933 (received rank upon joining SS Riding School)
  • SS-Mann
    Mann (military rank)
    Mann , was a paramilitary rank used by several Nazi Party paramilitary organizations between 1925 and 1945. The rank is most often associated with the SS, and also as a rank of the SA where Mann was the lowest enlisted rank and was the equivalent of a Private.In 1938, with the rise of the...

    : July 1934


(left SS after graduation from the school; commissioned in 1940 with date of entry backdated to 1934)
  • SS-Untersturmführer
    Untersturmführer
    Untersturmführer was a paramilitary rank of the German Schutzstaffel first created in July 1934. The rank can trace its origins to the older SA rank of Sturmführer which had existed since the founding of the SA in 1921...

    : May 1, 1940
  • SS-Obersturmführer
    Obersturmführer
    Obersturmführer was a paramilitary rank of the Nazi party that was used by the SS and also as a rank of the SA. Translated as “Senior Assault Leader”, the rank of Obersturmführer was first created in 1932 as the result of an expansion of the Sturmabteilung and the need for an additional rank in...

    : November 9, 1941
  • SS-Hauptsturmführer
    Hauptsturmführer
    Hauptsturmführer was a Nazi rank of the SS which was used between the years of 1934 and 1945. The rank of Hauptsturmführer was a mid-grade company level officer and was the equivalent of a Captain in the German Army and also the equivalent of captain in foreign armies...

    : November 9, 1942
  • SS-Sturmbannführer
    Sturmbannführer
    Sturmbannführer was a paramilitary rank of the Nazi Party equivalent to major, used both in the Sturmabteilung and the Schutzstaffel...

    : June 28, 1943

Honors

  • War Merit Cross, First Class with Swords in 1943
  • Knights Cross of the War Merit Cross
    War Merit Cross
    The War Merit Cross was a decoration of Nazi Germany during the Second World War, which could be awarded to civilians as well as military personnel...

     in 1944
  • Elected Honorary Fellow of the British Interplanetary Society
    British Interplanetary Society
    The British Interplanetary Society founded in 1933 by Philip E. Cleator, is the oldest space advocacy organisation in the world whose aim is exclusively to support and promote astronautics and space exploration.-Structure:...

     in 1949
  • Deutsches Bundesverdienstkreuz
    Bundesverdienstkreuz
    The Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany is the only general state decoration of the Federal Republic of Germany. It has existed since 7 September 1951, and between 3,000 and 5,200 awards are given every year across all classes...

     in 1959
  • Smithsonian
    Smithsonian Institution
    The Smithsonian Institution is an educational and research institute and associated museum complex, administered and funded by the government of the United States and by funds from its endowment, contributions, and profits from its retail operations, concessions, licensing activities, and magazines...

     Langley Medal in 1967

  • NASA Distinguished Service Medal
    NASA Distinguished Service Medal
    The NASA Distinguished Service Medal is the highest award which may be bestowed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration of the United States...

     in 1969
  • National Medal of Science
    National Medal of Science
    The National Medal of Science is an honor bestowed by the President of the United States to individuals in science and engineering who have made important contributions to the advancement of knowledge in the fields of behavioral and social sciences, biology, chemistry, engineering, mathematics and...

     in 1975
  • Werner von Siemens Ring
    Werner von Siemens Ring
    The Werner von Siemens Ring is considered to be among the highest ranking awards for technical sciences in Germany. It has been awarded from 1916 to 1941 and since 1952 about every three years by the foundation Stiftung Werner-von-Siemens-Ring...

     in 1975
  • Civitan International World Citizenship Award in 1970


In popular culture

Film and television
Von Braun has been featured in a number of movies and television shows or series about the space race
Space Race
The Space Race was a mid-to-late 20th century competition between the Soviet Union and the United States for supremacy in space exploration. Between 1957 and 1975, Cold War rivalry between the two nations focused on attaining firsts in space exploration, which were seen as necessary for national...

:
  • I Aim at the Stars
    I Aim at the Stars
    I Aim at the Stars is a 1960 biographical film which tells the story of the life of Wernher von Braun. The film covers his life from his early days in Germany, through Peenemünde, up until his work with the U.S...

    (1960), also titled Wernher von Braun and Ich greife nach den Sternen ("I Reach for the Stars"); von Braun played by Curd Jürgens
    Curd Jürgens
    Curd Gustav Andreas Gottlieb Franz Jürgens was a German-Austrian stage and film actor. He was usually billed in English-speaking films as Curt Jurgens.-Early life:...

    , his wife Maria played by Victoria Shaw. Satirist Mort Sahl
    Mort Sahl
    Morton Lyon "Mort" Sahl is a Canadian-born American comedian and actor. He occasionally wrote jokes for speeches delivered by President John F. Kennedy. He was the first comedian to record a live album and the first to perform on college campuses...

     suggested the subtitle "But Sometimes I Hit London".
  • From the Earth to the Moon (TV, 1998): von Braun played by Norbert Weisser
    Norbert Weisser
    Norbert Weisser is a German-born American film and theatre actor, probably most known for his many roles in Albert Pyun-directed films ....

    .
  • October Sky
    October Sky
    October Sky is a 1999 American biographical film directed by Joe Johnston, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Chris Cooper and Laura Dern. It is based on the true story of Homer Hickam, a coal miner's son who was inspired by the launch of Sputnik 1 to take up rocketry against his father's wishes, and who...

    (1999): this film portrays U.S. rocket scientist Homer Hickam
    Homer Hickam
    Homer Hadley Hickam, Jr. is an American author, Vietnam veteran, and a former NASA engineer. His autobiographical novel Rocket Boys: A Memoir, was a #1 New York Times Best Seller, is studied in many American and international school systems, and was the basis for the popular film October Sky...

    , who as a teenager admired von Braun (played by Joe Digaetano). The film's title, October Sky, is an anagram
    Anagram
    An anagram is a type of word play, the result of rearranging the letters of a word or phrase to produce a new word or phrase, using all the original letters exactly once; e.g., orchestra = carthorse, A decimal point = I'm a dot in place, Tom Marvolo Riddle = I am Lord Voldemort. Someone who...

     of the autobiography it was based on: Rocket Boys
    Rocket Boys
    Rocket Boys is the first memoir in a series of three, by Homer Hickam, Jr. It is a story of growing up in a mining town, and a boy's pursuit of amateur rocketry in a coal mining town. It won the in 1998, the year of its release. Today, it is one of the most often picked community/library reads in...

    .
  • Space Race
    Space Race (TV series)
    Space Race is a BBC docudrama series first shown in Britain on BBC2 between September and October 2005, chronicling the major events and characters in the American/Soviet space race up to the first landing of a man on the moon. It focuses on Sergei Korolev, the Soviet chief rocket designer, and...

    (TV, BBC
    BBC
    The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

     co-production with NDR
    Norddeutscher Rundfunk
    Norddeutscher Rundfunk is a public radio and television broadcaster, based in Hamburg. In addition to the city-state of Hamburg, NDR transmits for the German states of Lower Saxony, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Schleswig-Holstein...

     (Germany), Channel One TV (Russia) and National Geographic
    National Geographic Society
    The National Geographic Society , headquartered in Washington, D.C. in the United States, is one of the largest non-profit scientific and educational institutions in the world. Its interests include geography, archaeology and natural science, the promotion of environmental and historical...

     TV (USA), 2005): von Braun played by Richard Dillane
    Richard Dillane
    Richard Dillane is an English actor. He appeared as Merv, the husband of Margaret Humphreys in Jim Loach's fact-based movie Oranges and Sunshine, as Wernher von Braun in the BBC television docudrama Space Race, as Nero in Howard Brenton's play Paul at the National Theatre of GB and as Stephen...

    .
  • The Lost Von Braun, a documentary by Aron Ranen. Interviews with Ernst Stuhlinger, Konrad Dannenberg, Karl Sendler, Alex Baum, Eli Rosenbaum (DOJ) and Von Braun's NASA secretary Bonnie Holmes.
  • Wernher von Braun - Rocket Man for War and Peace A three part (part1, part 2, part 3) documentary - in English - from the German International channel DW-TV. Original German version Wernher von Braun - Der Mann für die Wunderwaffen by the Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk.

Several fictional characters have been modeled on von Braun:
  • The Right Stuff (1983): The Chief Scientist, played by Scott Beach
    Scott Beach
    Scott Beach was a popular actor, writer, and disc jockey.-Biography:Born Alvin Scott Beach, he appeared in numerous motion pictures, most notably as a German scientist patterned after Wernher von Braun in The Right Stuff.Beach's deep, resonant voice was often heard in films...

    , was clearly modeled on von Braun.
  • Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964): Dr Strangelove is usually held to be based at least partly on von Braun.
  • Alphaville, une étrange aventure de Lemmy Caution (1965, directed by Jean-Luc Godard
    Jean-Luc Godard
    Jean-Luc Godard is a French-Swiss film director, screenwriter and film critic. He is often identified with the 1960s French film movement, French Nouvelle Vague, or "New Wave"....

    ): Howard Vernon
    Howard Vernon
    Howard Vernon was a Swiss actor.Vernon was born Mario Lippert to a Swiss father and an American mother and was fluent in German, English, and French...

     plays Professor von Braun (also known as Leonard Nosferatu), the inventor of the "Alpha 60" super-computer that rules Alphaville.
  • In Diamonds Are Forever
    Diamonds Are Forever (film)
    Diamonds Are Forever is the seventh spy film in the Eon Productions James Bond series, and the sixth and final Eon Productions film to star Sean Connery as the fictional MI6 agent James Bond. The film is based on Ian Fleming's 1956 novel of the same name, and is the second of four James Bond films...

    (1971), the seventh James Bond
    James Bond
    James Bond, code name 007, is a fictional character created in 1953 by writer Ian Fleming, who featured him in twelve novels and two short story collections. There have been a six other authors who wrote authorised Bond novels or novelizations after Fleming's death in 1964: Kingsley Amis,...

     film, the supervillain Ernst Stavro Blofeld
    Ernst Stavro Blofeld
    Ernst Stavro Blofeld is a fictional character and a supervillain from the James Bond series of novels and films, who was created by Ian Fleming and Kevin McClory. An evil genius with aspirations of world domination, he is the archenemy of the British Secret Service agent James Bond and is arguably...

     employs a German scientist resembling von Braun, named Professor Dr. Metz, a pacifist who is duped by Blofeld's rhetoric, who works in a NASA-style research lab in the Nevada desert. The lab is ambiguously depicted as being involved in faking the moon landings (an apparent joking nod to conspiracy theorists, and which figures in some versions of their theories).

There are other references to von Braun in film and on television:
  • Mobile Suit Gundam
    Mobile Suit Gundam
    is a televised anime series, created by Sunrise. Created and directed by Yoshiyuki Tomino, it premiered in Japan on Nagoya Broadcasting Network on April 7, 1979, and lasted until January 26, 1980, spanning 43 episodes...

    (1979): The largest Lunar city in the Universal Century era is called 'Von Braun City'. The city is the home of Anaheim Electronics, is a strategic point in space, and is built around Neil Armstrong's footprint in the Apollo missions.
  • Mababangong Bangungot (Perfumed Nightmare) (1977): Director and star Kidlat Tahimik
    Kidlat Tahimik
    Eric de Guia , better known as Kidlat Tahimik , is a film director, writer and actor whose films are commonly associated with the Third Cinema movement through their critiques of neocolonialism.One of the most prominent names in the Filipino film industry, he has garnered various...

     is president of a Wernher von Braun club and is fascinated with "First World" progress, particularly von Braun's efforts in the U.S. space program.
  • Planetes
    Planetes
    is a Japanese hard science fiction manga by Makoto Yukimura. It was adapted as a 26-episode television anime by Sunrise, which was broadcast on NHK from October 2003 through April 2004...

    (TV, 2004): There is an upcoming exploratory mission to Jupiter on a new fusion powered ship, the Von Braun.
  • Alien Planet
    Alien Planet
    Alien Planet is a 94-minute docufiction, originally airing on the Discovery Channel, about two internationally built robot probes searching for alien life on the fictional planet Darwin IV. It was based on the book Expedition, by sci-fi/fantasy artist and writer Wayne Douglas Barlowe, who was also...

    (TV, 2005): A spacecraft, named Von Braun, is named after him.


Print media
  • In an issue of Mad Magazine in the late 1950s, artist Wallace Wood depicted von Braun at the launch of a rocket, ready to listen to a radio transmitting the rocket's signals. Suddenly he says, "HIMMEL! Vas ist los?" and then explains, "Vat iss wrong is vit der RADIO! It iss AC...und der control room iss DC!"
  • In Warren Ellis
    Warren Ellis
    Warren Girard Ellis is an English author of comics, novels, and television, who is well-known for sociocultural commentary, both through his online presence and through his writing, which covers transhumanist themes...

    ' graphic novel Ministry of Space
    Ministry of Space
    Ministry of Space is a three-part alternate history mini-series written by Warren Ellis, published by Image Comics, starting in 2001. The book's art is by Chris Weston, and depicts retro technology in a believably 'British' style....

    , von Braun is a supporting character, settling in Britain after World War II, and being essential for the realization of the British Space Program.


Literature
  • The Good German
    The Good German
    The Good German is a 2006 feature film adaptation of the novel by Joseph Kanon. It was directed by Steven Soderbergh, and stars George Clooney, Cate Blanchett, and Tobey Maguire...

    by Joseph Kanon. Von Braun and other scientists are said to have been implicated in the use of slave labour at Peenemünde; their transfer to the US forms part of the narrative.
  • Space
    Space (novel)
    Space is a novel by James A. Michener published in 1982. It is a fictionalized history of the United States space program, with a particular emphasis on manned spaceflight.Michener writes in a semi-documentary style...

    by James Michener. Von Braun and other German scientists are brought to the US and form a vital part of the US efforts to reach space.
  • Gravity's Rainbow
    Gravity's Rainbow
    Gravity's Rainbow is a postmodern novel written by Thomas Pynchon and first published on February 28, 1973.The narrative is set primarily in Europe at the end of World War II and centers on the design, production and dispatch of V-2 rockets by the German military, and, in particular, the quest...

    by Thomas Pynchon. The highly notable novel involved British intelligence attempting to avert and predict V-2 rocket attacks. The work even includes a gyroscopic equation for the V2. The first portion of the novel, "Beyond The Zero", begins with a quote from von Braun: "Nature does not know extinction; all it knows is transformation. Everything science has taught me, and continues to teach me, strengthens my belief in the continuity of our spiritual existence after death."
  • New Dictionary, a short story by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. in his collection Welcome to the Monkey House
    Welcome to the Monkey House
    Welcome to the Monkey House is an assortment of short stories written by Kurt Vonnegut, first published in August 1968. The stories range from war-time epics to futuristic thrillers, given with satire and Vonnegut's unique edge...

    , notes Von Braun as one of the things an old dictionary does not mention.
  • Mother Night
    Mother Night
    Mother Night is a novel by American author Kurt Vonnegut, first published in 1961. The title of the book is taken from Goethe's Faust....

    , by Kurt Vonnegut
    Kurt Vonnegut
    Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. was a 20th century American writer. His works such as Cat's Cradle , Slaughterhouse-Five and Breakfast of Champions blend satire, gallows humor and science fiction. He was known for his humanist beliefs and was honorary president of the American Humanist Association.-Early...

    , has a scene in which a character reads a Life magazine with von Braun on the cover.
  • Dora by Jean Michel. This is not a novel, but a memoir referring to the Mittelbau-Dora
    Mittelbau-Dora
    Mittelbau-Dora was a Nazi Germany labour camp that provided workers for the Mittelwerk V-2 rocket factory in the Kohnstein, situated near Nordhausen, Germany....

     V-2 slave labour camps, by Jean Michel and Louis Nucéra.
  • Rocket Boys
    Rocket Boys
    Rocket Boys is the first memoir in a series of three, by Homer Hickam, Jr. It is a story of growing up in a mining town, and a boy's pursuit of amateur rocketry in a coal mining town. It won the in 1998, the year of its release. Today, it is one of the most often picked community/library reads in...

    by Homer Hickam, Jr.
    Homer Hickam
    Homer Hadley Hickam, Jr. is an American author, Vietnam veteran, and a former NASA engineer. His autobiographical novel Rocket Boys: A Memoir, was a #1 New York Times Best Seller, is studied in many American and international school systems, and was the basis for the popular film October Sky...

     The movie October Sky
    October Sky
    October Sky is a 1999 American biographical film directed by Joe Johnston, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Chris Cooper and Laura Dern. It is based on the true story of Homer Hickam, a coal miner's son who was inspired by the launch of Sputnik 1 to take up rocketry against his father's wishes, and who...

    was based on this memoir about a boy, Sonny (in the movie, he's called Homer) Hickam, who lives in a small West Virginia coal town and builds rockets and greatly admires von Braun. Although not directly concerned with von Braun, it is a vivid picture of popular attitudes toward rocket science and von Braun during the early days of the U. S. space program.


Music
  • Wernher von Braun (1965): A song written and performed by Tom Lehrer
    Tom Lehrer
    Thomas Andrew "Tom" Lehrer is an American singer-songwriter, satirist, pianist, mathematician and polymath. He has lectured on mathematics and musical theater...

     for an episode of NBC
    NBC
    The National Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network and former radio network headquartered in the GE Building in New York City's Rockefeller Center with additional major offices near Los Angeles and in Chicago...

    's American version of the BBC TV show That Was The Week That Was
    That Was The Week That Was
    That Was The Week That Was, also known as TW3, is a satirical television comedy programme that was shown on BBC Television in 1962 and 1963. It was devised, produced and directed by Ned Sherrin and presented by David Frost...

    ; the song was later included in Lehrer's album That Was The Year That Was
    That Was the Year That Was
    That Was the Year That Was is a live album recorded at the hungry i in San Francisco, containing performances by Tom Lehrer of satiric topical songs he originally wrote for the NBC television series That Was The Week That Was, known informally as TW3...

    . It was a satire on what some saw as von Braun's cavalier attitude toward the consequences of his work in Nazi Germany: "'Once the rockets are up, who cares where they come down? / That's not my department', says Wernher von Braun." Contrary to popular belief, Wernher von Braun did not sue Tom Lehrer for defamation, nor has Lehrer been forced to relinquish all of his royalty income to Von Braun. Lehrer firmly denied those claims in a 2003 interview.
  • The Last Days of Pompeii (1991): A rock opera by Grant Hart
    Grant Hart
    Grant Hart is an American musician, best known as the drummer and co-songwriter for the influential alternative rock and hardcore punk band Hüsker Dü. After the band's breakup in 1987, Hart formed the alternative rock trio Nova Mob, where he moved to vocals and guitar...

    's post-Hüsker Dü
    Hüsker Dü
    Hüsker Dü was an American rock band formed in Saint Paul, Minnesota in 1979. The band's continual members were guitarist Bob Mould, bassist Greg Norton, and drummer Grant Hart....

     alternative rock group Nova Mob, in which von Braun features as a character. The album includes a song called Wernher von Braun.
  • Progress vs. Pettiness (2005): A song about the Space Race written and performed by The Phenomenauts for their CD Re-Entry. The song begins: "In 1942 there was Wernher von Braun..."
  • Oh Carolina
    Oh Carolina
    "Oh Carolina" is a song made famous by Shaggy, and released as the lead single from his debut album, Pure Pleasure. Written by John Folkes, produced by Prince Buster and performed by The Folkes Brothers in 1960, "Oh Carolina" was a landmark single in the development of reggae music, especially as a...

    (aka Carolina) (1960): written by John Folkes and recorded by the Folkes Brothers
    Folkes Brothers
    The Folkes Brothers were a Jamaican mento group, composed of John, Mico, and Junior Folkes. Their 1960 single "Oh Carolina" was the first hit record produced by Prince Buster, and is regarded as a landmark in the history of ska and reggae music....

     and made famous by a cover from Jamaican born singer Shaggy
    Shaggy (musician)
    Orville Richard Burrell , better known by his stage name Shaggy, is a Jamaican-American reggae singer and rapper. He is perhaps best known for his 1995 single "Boombastic" and 2000 single "It Wasn't Me"...

     mentions Wernher von Braun without any context.
  • John D. Loudermilk
    John D. Loudermilk
    John D. Loudermilk is an American singer and songwriter.-Biography:Born in Durham, North Carolina, Loudermilk grew up in a family who were members of the Salvation Army faith and was influenced by the church singing. His cousins Ira and Charlie Loudermilk were known professionally as the Louvin...

    's song He's Just A Scientist (That's All) contains the lyric "Everybody's flippin' over Fabian or Frankie Avalon, but nobody ever seems to give a flip over Dr Werner Von Braun."
  • The song "Apollo XI/V1/V2/Aggregat 4" from German Electro band Welle: Erdball deals with his inventions.
  • Blues metal artists Clutch
    Clutch (band)
    Clutch is an American rock band from Germantown, Maryland, formed in 1990. The band's first release was an EP entitled Pitchfork, which debuted in October 1990. Their first studio album, Transnational Speedway League, was released three years later in 1993. To date, Clutch has released nine studio...

     make reference to von Braun in the 2009 song "Struck Down" on the album Strange Cousins From The West
    Strange Cousins from the West
    Strange Cousins from the West is the ninth full-length studio album by rock band Clutch. The album was released on July 14, 2009. It was produced by J. Robbins who previously worked with the band on Robot Hive/Exodus.The album debuted at No...

    .


Computer games
  • In the 1999 PC
    IBM PC compatible
    IBM PC compatible computers are those generally similar to the original IBM PC, XT, and AT. Such computers used to be referred to as PC clones, or IBM clones since they almost exactly duplicated all the significant features of the PC architecture, facilitated by various manufacturers' ability to...

     game System Shock 2
    System Shock 2
    System Shock 2 is a 1999 first-person action role-playing video game, designed by Ken Levine for Microsoft Windows. The title is a sequel to the 1994 PC game System Shock, and was co-developed by Irrational Games and Looking Glass Studios...

    , the main starship is named the Von Braun.

See also

  • Aggregate 1
  • German inventors and discoverers
    German inventors and discoverers
    This is a list of German inventors and discoverers. The following list comprises people from Germany or German-speaking Europe, also of people of predominantly German heritage, in alphabetical order of the surname. The main section includes existing articles, indicated by blue links, and possibly...

  • List of coupled cousins
  • Robert H. Goddard
    Robert H. Goddard
    Robert Hutchings Goddard was an American professor, physicist and inventor who is credited with creating and building the world's first liquid-fueled rocket, which he successfully launched on March 16, 1926...

  • Sergey Korolyov
    Sergey Korolyov
    Sergei Pavlovich Korolev ; died 14 January 1966 in Moscow, Russia) was the lead Soviet rocket engineer and spacecraft designer in the Space Race between the United States and the Soviet Union during the 1950s and 1960s...

  • Pedro Paulet
    Pedro Paulet
    Pedro Paulet Mostajo was a Peruvian scientist who claimed he, in 1895, was the first person to build a liquid-fuel rocket engine and, in 1900, the first person to build a modern rocket propulsion system. Paulet is considered one of the "fathers of aeronautics"...



External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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