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Wernher von Braun

Wernher von Braun

The German-born American space scientist Wernher von Braun (1912-1977), the "father of space travel," developed the first practical space rockets and launch vehicles.

Born March 23, 1912, in Wirsitz, Posen (Germany), his father, Baron Magnus von Braun, was a founder of the German Savings Bank, a member of the Weimar Republic Cabinet and minister of agriculture. His mother, the former Emmy von Quistorp, an excellent musician and outstanding amateur astronomer, exerted a strong influence on her son.

At the French Gymnasium, Wernher excelled in languages but failed physics and mathematics. He then attended the Hermann Lietz School at Ettersburg Castle, a school famous for its advanced teaching methods and emphasis on practical trades. He soon developed an intense interest in astronomy. Fascination with the theories of space flight then prompted him to study mathematics and physics with renewed interest. Before he graduated, he was teaching mathematics and tutoring deficient students.

Von Braun enrolled in the Charlottenburg Institute of Technology in Berlin. He became an active member of the VfR (Verein für Raumschiffahrt, or Society for Space Travel) and an associate of Hermann Oberth, Willy Ley and other leading German rocket enthusiasts.

Soon afterward Oberth came to Berlin at the request of the VfR, and von Braun became his student assistant. Together they developed a small rocket engine which was a technical success. Funding for the project, however, ended and Oberth returned to his native Romania. Von Braun and his associates continued their work at an abandoned field outside Berlin and used the old buildings for laboratories and living quarters.

For a time von Braun attended the Institute of Technology in Zurich, Switzerland. There he began the study of the physiological effects of space flight, conducting crude experiments with mice in a centrifuge. The experiments convinced him that man could withstand the rapid acceleration and deceleration of space flight. He then returned to reenter Charlottenburg Institute and work at the rocket field.

German Army Rocket Program

Adolf Hitler manipulated his way to power during the Weimar Republic and became chancellor of Germany on January 30, 1933. He then maneuvered a parliamentary coup, suspended the constitution and began rule by decree. Still smarting from the restrictions imposed by the Treaty of Versailles that ended World War I, the German army yearned to rebuild. The treaty had forbidden Germany to have any gun, cannon, or weapon with a bore exceeding three inches. But the Nazis saw a loophole. The treaty did not envision rockets and made no mention of them. So German military planners hoped to develop rockets as weapons. German army ordnance experts then began frequent visits to the rocket field and monitored the rocket development work. Impressed with the knowledge and scope of von Braun's imagination, they invited him to continue his research at the army's new Kummersdorf facilities. On Oct. 1, 1932, he officially joined the German Army Ordnance Office rocket program. He subsequently received his doctorate in physics from the University of Berlin in 1934. By that time, he was technical director at Kummersdorf with a staff of 80 scientists and technicians.

Rocket Development at Peenemünde

The Nazis moved the rocket center to Peenemünde, on Germany's Baltic coast, in 1937 and made von Braun technical director. When World War II began, Germany gave rocket development assumed highest priority. Work was well under way on a rocket 46 feet long with a thrust of 55,000 pounds, the largest in the world at that time. (By contrast, Oberth's first rocket had a thrust of 20 pounds; the Saturn V booster stage generated a thrust of 7.5 million pounds.) This rocket, later to be known as the V-2, was an enormous technical challenge. It required significant advances in aerodynamics, propulsion and guidance. Von Braun's team attacked the problems, and despite initial setbacks, persevered. They successfully produced V-2. The Nazis wanted it as a weapon of war. Von Braun had a different vision: space travel.

His interest in space exploration rather than military application led to his arrest and imprisonment by the German secret police. The Nazis released him only after they realized the implication of jailing their lead rocket scientist. The program lurched backward without his leadership. It disrupted Hitler's timetable for the war.

By 1943 the rocket complex at Peenemünde was a priority Allied target. When Germany was near collapse, von Braun evacuated his staff to an area where they might be captured by the Americans. He reasoned that the United States was the nation most likely to use its resources for space exploration. He led more than 5,000 of his associates and their families to the southwest just before the Russians advanced into the abandoned rocket development center. The rocket team surrendered to U.S. Forces on May 2, 1945.

Early U.S. Rocket Experiments

During interrogation by Allied intelligence officers, von Braun prepared a report on rocket development and applications in which he forecast trips to the moon, orbiting satellites and space stations. Recognizing the scope of von Braun's work, the U.S. Army authorized the transfer of von Braun, 112 of his engineers and scientists, 100 V-2 rockets and the rocket technical data to the United States.

Von Braun and his advance group arrived in the United States as "wards of the Army" on Sept. 29, 1945. They arrived at Ft. Bliss, Tex. with a mandate to re-assemble and further develop A-4 rockets, the German successor to the V-2. There they taught what they knew to what was then a limited audience. The team moved what is now White Sands Proving Grounds in New Mexico in 1946 and then to Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama in 1950 where von Braun remained for the next twenty years. He used his free time to write about space travel and to correspond with his family and his cousin, Maria von Quistorp. In early 1947 he obtained permission to return to Germany to marry Maria. They had three children.

Von Braun continued work on V-2 launchings, conducting some of the earliest experiments in recording atmospheric conditions, photographing the earth from high altitudes, perfecting guidance systems, and conducting medical experiments with animals in space. He also completed his book, The Mars Project, an account of planetary exploration, but he was unable to interest a publisher until much later.

The U.S. Army gave von Braun the job of developing the Redstone rocket, which was to play a significant role in America's early space program. On April 15, 1955, von Braun and 40 of his associates became naturalized citizens.

The Russian space program outstripped that of the United States in the 1950s. Von Braun warned American officials of this repeatedly, in official communications and in public speeches, but his numerous requests for permission to orbit a satellite were denied. When the Russians successfully orbited Sputnik I and the U.S. Navy's Vanguard program failed, the United States finally unleased von Braun's group. Within 90 days, using a modified Redstone rocket (the Jupiter C), and with the cooperation of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of the California Institute of Technology, the team launched into orbit the free world's first satellite Explorer I on January 31, 1958.

U.S. Space Program

After creation of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, they appointed von Braun director of the George C. Marshall Space Flight Center at Huntsville on July 1, 1960. For the first time, von Braun found his efforts directed to the development of launch vehicles solely to explore space. The space agency sought his advice about techniques later used in the landing on the moon. On Oct. 27, 1961, agency launched the first Saturn I vehicle. It was 162 feet long, weighed 460 tons at lift-off, and rose to a height of 85 miles. On Nov. 9, 1967, the newer Saturn V made its debut. It was more than twice as long as the Saturn I. Just before Christmas, 1968, a Saturn V launch vehicle, developed under von Braun's direction, launched Apollo 8, the world's first spacecraft to travel to the moon. In March 1970, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) transferred von Braun to its headquarters in Washington, D.C., where he became Deputy Associate Administrator.

Von Braun resigned from NASA in July, 1972, to become vice president for engineering and development with Fairchild Industries of Germantown, Maryland. Besides his work for that aerospace firm, he continued his efforts to promote human space flight, helping to found the National Space Institute in 1975 and serving as its first president. On June 16, 1977, he died of cancer at a hospital in Alexandria, Virginia.

Von Braun was always a firm believer in personal experience as a teacher, and often took part in experiments conducted to determine the physiological aspects of space flight. Long before the acceptance of the feasibility of space flight, he subjected himself to experiments in weightlessness and high acceleration.

Considered one of the world's great scientists, von Braun was a profoundly religious man. On one occasion he remarked: "We should remember that science exists only because there are people, and its concepts exist only in the minds of men. Behind these concepts lies the reality which is being revealed to us, but only by the grace of God."

Further Reading

Erik Bergaust, Reaching for the Stars (1960); Helen B. Walters, Wernher von Braun: Rocket Engineer (1964); Heather M. David, Wernher von Braun (1967); and John Goodrum, Wernher von Braun: Space Pioneer (1969). The most detailed accounts of German rocket development under Von Braun and the experiences of the German rocket team are in Walter Dornberger, V-2 (1952; trans. 1954), and Dieter K. Huzel, Peenemünde to Canaveral (1962). An excellent account of the U.S. Army's rocket development efforts under Von Braun and the launching of Explorer I is given in John B. Medaris, Countdown for Decision (1960). For additional background see Wernher von Braun and Frederick I. Ordway, History of Rocketry and Space Travel (1967); Edward O. Buckbee, Biographical Data: Wernher von Braun (1983); Hunt, Linda, Secret Agenda: The United States Government, Nazi Scientists, and Project Paperclip (1991); and Ernst Stulinger and Frederick Ordway, Wernher von Braun: Crusader for Space (1994). □

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Braun, Wernher von (1912-1977)

Braun, Wernher von (1912-1977)

German-born American aerospace engineer

Wernher von Braun was the most famous rocket engineer of his time, noted promoter of space flight. Teams under his direction designed the V2, Redstone, Jupiter, and Pershing missiles, as well as the Jupiter C, Juno, and Saturn launch vehicles that carried most of the early U.S. satellites and spacecraft beyond the earth's atmosphere and ultimately to the moon . He became both a celebrity and a national hero in the United States, winning numerous awards, including the first Robert H. Goddard Memorial Trophy in 1958, the Distinguished Federal Civilian Service Award (presented by President Dwight D. Eisenhower) in 1959, and the National Medal of Science in 1977. As President Jimmy Carter stated at the time of his death: "To millions of Americans, [his] name was inextricably linked to our exploration of space and to the creative application of technology. He was not only a skillful engineer but also a man of bold vision; his inspirational leadership helped mobilize and maintain the effort we needed to reach the Moon and beyond."

The second of three children (all male), Wernher Magnus Maximilian von Braun was born in the east German town of Wirsitz (later, Wyrzysk, Poland). He was the son of Baron Magnus Alexander Maximilian von Braunthen the principal magistrate (Landrat ) of the governmental district and later (1932early 1933) the minister of nutrition and agriculture in the last two governments of the Weimar Republic before Hitler rose to power in Germanyand of Emmy (von Quistorp) von Braun, a well-educated woman from the Swedish-German aristocracy with a strong interest in biology and astronomy . She inspired her son's interest in space flight by supplying him with the science fiction works of Jules Verne and H. G. Wells and by giving him a telescope as a gift upon his confirmation into the Lutheran church in his early teens, instead of the customary watch or camera. Despite these influences, the young von Braun was initially a weak student and was held back one year in secondary school because of his inability in math and physics . Due to his interest in astronomy and rockets, he obtained a copy of space pioneer Hermann Oberth's book Die Rakete zu den Planeträumen ("Rockets to planetary space") in 1925. Appalled that he could not understand its complicated mathematical formulas, he determined to master his two weakest subjects. Upon completion of secondary school, von Braun

entered the Berlin-Charlottenburg Institute of Technology, where he earned a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering and aircraft construction in 1932.

In the spring of 1930, von Braun found time to work as part of the German Society for Space Travel, a group founded in part by Hermann Oberth which experimented with small, liquid-fueled rockets. Although Oberth returned to a teaching position in his native Romania, von Braun continued working with the society. When the group ran short of funds during the Depression, von Braun, then twenty, reluctantly accepted the sponsorship of the German military. In 1932 he went to work for the German army's ordnance department at Kummersdorf near Berlin, continuing to develop liquid-fueled rockets. Entering the University of Berlin about this same time, he used his work at Kummersdorf as the basis for his doctoral dissertation and received his Ph.D. in physics in 1934.

Von Braun's staff at Kummersdorf eventually grew to some eighty people, and in early 1937, the group moved to Peenemünde, a town on the Baltic coast where the German army together with the air force had constructed new facilities. Before the move, engineers at Kummersdorf had begun developing ever-larger rockets, and in 1936 they completed the preliminary design for the A4, better known as the V2. This was an exceptionally ambitious undertaking, since the missile was to be 45 feet long, deliver a 1-ton warhead to a target some 160 miles distant, and employ a rocket motor that could deliver a 25-ton thrust for 60 seconds, compared to the 1.5 tons of thrust supplied by the largest liquid-fueled rocket motors then available. Von Braun's team encountered numerous difficultiesperfecting the injection system for the propellants, mastering the aerodynamic properties of the missile, and especially in developing its guidance and control system. Thus, even with the assistance of private industry and universities, the first successful launch of the A4 did not occur at Peenemünde until October 3, 1942. Despite this success, failed launches continued to plague the project, and as a result the first fully operational V2s were not fired until September 1944. Between then and the end of the war, approximately 6,000 rockets were manufactured at an underground production site named Mittelwerk, using the slave labor of concentration camp inmates and prisoners of war. Although several thousand V2s struck London, Antwerp, and other allied targets, they were not strategically significant in the German war effort. Their importance lies in the technological advances they brought to the development of rocketry.

As the war drew to a close in Europe in the early months of 1945, von Braun organized the move of hundreds of people from Peenemünde to Bavaria so they could surrender to the Americans rather than the Soviets. Subsequently, about 120 of them went to Fort Bliss near El Paso, Texas, as part of a military operation called Project Paperclip. They worked on rocket development and employed captured V2s for high altitude research at the nearby White Sands Proving Ground in New Mexico. In the midst of these efforts, von Braun returned to Germany to marry, returning with his wife to Texas after the wedding. In 1950, the von Braun team transferred to the Redstone Arsenal near Huntsville, Alabama, where between April 1950 and February 1956, it developed the Redstone medium-range ballistic missile under his technical direction. Deployed in 1958, the Redstone was basically an offshoot of the V2 but featured several modifications including an improved inertial guidance system. The Redstone also served as a launch vehicle, placing Alan B. Shephard and Virgil I. "Gus" Grissom in suborbital flight in May and July 1961, respectively. Meanwhile, in February 1956, von Braun became the director of the development operations division of the newly established Army Ballistic Missile Agency (ABMA) in Huntsville. While located there, he and his wife raised three children. Von Braun himself became a U.S. citizen on April 14, 1955.

Undoubtedly the greatest claim to fame of von Braun and his team was the powerful Saturn family of rockets, which propelled Americans into lunar orbit and landed 12 of them on the moon between July 1969 and January 1971. Development of these launch vehicles began under ABMA and was completed during the decade after July 1, 1960, when von Braun and over 4,000 ABMA personnel transferred to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), forming the George C. Marshall Space Flight Center, which von Braun directed until February 1970. The Saturn I and Ib were developmental rockets leading to the massive Saturn V that actually launched the astronauts of the Apollo program. Propelled by liquid oxygen and kerosene in its first stage, liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen for the two upper stages, the Saturn V stood 363 feet high, six stories above the level of the Statue of Liberty. Its first stage constituted the largest aluminum cylinder ever produced; its valves were as large as barrels, its fuel pumps larger than refrigerators.

As von Braun repeatedly insisted, he and his team were not alone responsible for the success of the Saturn and Apollo programs. In fact, the engineers at Marshall often urged more conservative solutions to problems occurring in both programs than NASA ultimately adopted. To von Braun's credit, he invariably accepted and supported the more radical approaches once he was convinced they were right. One example involved the debate over all-up versus step-by-step testing of Saturn V. Having experienced numerous rocket system failures going back to the V2 and beyond, the German engineers favored testing each stage of the complicated rocket. At NASA headquarters, however, administrator George Mueller preferred the Air Force approach, which relied much more heavily on ground testing. He therefore insisted upon testing Saturn V all at once in order to meet President John F. Kennedy's ambitious goal of landing an American on the moon before the end of the decade. Ever cautious, von Braun hesitated but finally concurred in the ultimately successful procedure.

Beyond his role as an engineer, scientist, and project manager, von Braun was also an important advocate for space flight, publishing numerous books and magazine articles, serving as a consultant for television programs and films as well as testifying before Congress. Perhaps most important in this regard were his contributions, with others, to a series of Collier's articles from 1952 to 1953 and to a Walt Disney television series produced by Ward Kimball from 1955 to 1957. Both series were enormously influential and, along with the fears aroused by the Soviet space program, galvanized American efforts to conquer space.

See also History of manned space exploration; Spacecraft, manned

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Von Braun, Wernher

Wernher von Braun

Born: March 23, 1912
Wirsitz, Germany
Died: June 16, 1977
Alexandria, Virginia

German-born American scientist

The German-born American space scientist Wernher von Braun, the "father of space travel," developed the first practical space rockets and launch vehicles. His advancements were instrumental in space exploration and in putting the first men on the moon.

An inspired student

Born on March 23, 1912, in Wirsitz, Germany, Wernher von Braun's father, Baron Magnus von Braun, was a founder of the German Savings Bank, a member of the Weimar Republic Cabinet, and minister of agriculture. His mother, the former Emmy von Quistorp, a musician and amateur astronomer (one who studies the universe), was a strong influence on her son, especially after she gave her son a telescope as a present. Wernher spent his childhood in several German cities, as the family moved wherever Magnus was transferred.

At the French Gymnasium, Wernher excelled in languages but failed physics and mathematics. He then attended the Hermann Lietz School at Ettersburg Castle, where he developed an intense interest in astronomy and overcame his failures in other subjects. Fascination with the theories of space flight then prompted him to study mathematics and physics with renewed interest. Before he graduated, he was teaching mathematics and tutoring other students.

Von Braun enrolled in the Charlottenburg Institute of Technology in Berlin. He became an active member of the Verein für Raumschiffahrt (VfR; Society for Space Travel) and an associate of Hermann Oberth (18941989), Willy Ley (19061969), and other leading German rocket enthusiasts. In 1930 Oberth and von Braun developed a small rocket engine, which was a technical success.

German army rocket program

Adolf Hitler (18891945) rose to power and became chancellor (leader) of Germany on January 30, 1933. Still upset about the restrictions of the Treaty of Versailles that ended World War I (191418), the German army looked to rebuild its forces. The treaty severely restricted Germany's production of weapons, such as guns and cannons. But the treaty made no mention of rockets, and German military planners hoped to develop rockets as weapons. They immediately turned to von Braun.

When World War II (193945) began, Germany gave rocket development highest priority. While von Braun developed a large rocket named the V-2, the Nazis (Hitler's army) wanted it as a weapon of war. Von Braun had a different vision: space travel.

By 1943 von Braun's rocket complex was the primary target of the Allied forces (America, France, and Great Britain). When Germany was near collapse, von Braun evacuated his staff to an area where the Americans might capture them. He reasoned that the United States was the nation most likely to use his resources for space exploration. The rocket team, which consisted of more than five thousand coworkers and their families, surrendered to U.S. forces on May 2, 1945.

Early U.S. rocket experiments

During questioning by Allied officers, von Braun prepared a report on rocket development and applications in which he predicted trips to the moon, orbiting satellites, and space stations. Recognizing the potential of von Braun's work, the U.S. Army authorized the transfer of von Braun, 112 of his engineers and scientists, 100 V-2 rockets, and the rocket technical data to the United States.

In 1946 the team moved to what is now the White Sands Proving Grounds in New Mexico. In 1950 they relocated to the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama, where von Braun remained for the next twenty years. He used his free time to write about space travel and to correspond with his family and his cousin, Maria von Quistorp. In early 1947 he obtained permission to return to Germany to marry Maria. They had three children. On April 15, 1955, von Braun and forty of his associates became naturalized citizens.

The Russian space program outpaced that of the United States in the 1950s. When the Russians successfully put Sputnik I into space and the U.S. Navy's Vanguard program failed, the United States turned to von Braun's group. Within ninety days, on January 31, 1958, the team launched the free world's first satellite, Explorer Ion, into orbit.

U.S. space program

After the creation of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), von Braun was appointed director of the George C. Marshall Space Flight Center at Huntsville, Alabama, on July 1, 1960. The space agency sought his advice about techniques later used in landing on the moon. Just before Christmas, 1968, a Saturn V launch vehicle, developed under von Braun's direction, launched Apollo 8, the world's first spacecraft to travel to the moon. In March 1970 NASA transferred von Braun to its headquarters in Washington, D.C., where he became deputy associate administrator.

Von Braun resigned from NASA in July 1972 to become vice president for engineering and development with Fairchild Industries of Germantown, Maryland. Besides his work for that aerospace firm, he continued his efforts to promote human space flight, helping to found the National Space Institute in 1975 and serving as its first president. On June 16, 1977, he died of cancer at a hospital in Alexandria, Virginia.

For More Information

Bergaust, Erik. Wernher von Braun: The Authoritative and Definitive Biographical Profile of the Father of Modern Space Flight. Washington, DC: National Space Institute, 1976.

Lampton, Christopher. Wernher von Braun. New York: Watts, 1988.

Piszkiewicz, Dennis. Wernher von Braun: The Man Who Sold the Moon. Westport, CT: Praeger, 1998.

Stuhlinger, Ernst, and Frederick I. Ordway III. Wernher von Braun, Crusader for Space: An Illustrated Memoir. Malabar, FL: Krieger, 1994.

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von Braun, Wernher

von Braun, Wernher

German-American Rocket Expert 1912-1977

Born in Wirsitz, Germany, on March 23, 1912, Wernher von Braun progressed from a student who failed mathematics and physics while spending too much time building his car to the world's foremost rocket engineer.

Inspired by Hermann Oberth's Rocket into Planetary Space (1923) and a telescope from his mother, von Braun decided to become a space pioneer by designing rockets and realized that he would need mathematics to succeed. He joined a German rocket society whose work had drawn the attention of the German army. In 1932 von Braun went to work for the ordnance department, designing ballistic missiles. During that period he earned a doctorate in physics, at the age of twenty-two, from the University of Berlin.

By 1941 von Braun had designed the A-4, followed by the V-2, which was used in World War II. When he learned that his rockets were being used to kill so many people, he said it was the darkest hour of his life. At one time he was jailed for spending time exploring spaceflight, taking time away from his military rocket building. He was released after two weeks because Germany needed his leadership for its missile program. In 1945 von Braun and 500 people on his team at Peenemunde surrendered to the Americans, bringing plans and test vehicles with them. He and 116 members of the team were brought to the United States to work on the American rocket program.

At White Sands Proving Ground in New Mexico and later at Huntsville, Alabama, von Braun's team developed the Redstone Rocket, which was twice the size of the V-2, and the Jupiter-C, which was modified into the Juno 1 and used to launch the American answer to Sputnik, the Explorer 1 spacecraft. The Redstone rocket later was used to launch Alan Shepard, the first American in space, on his suborbital flight. When the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was established in 1958, von Braun became the director of the Huntsville installation, now named the Marshall Space Flight Center.

When the Soviet Union shocked the world with the launch of Yuri Gagarin three weeks before Shepard's flight, President John F. Kennedy consulted with von Braun to find a goal to which the United States could beat the Soviet Union. Von Braun told him that he thought the United States could land a man on the Moon and return him to Earth by 1967 or 1968. Once President Kennedy issued his challenge to get to the Moon "within the decade," von Braun was named to develop the Saturn rocket to achieve that purpose. The Saturn V rocket has the distinction of having launched all the American Moon missions as well as the Skylab space station without a single failure.

Von Braun retired from his post as deputy associate administrator at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C., in 1972. In 1975 he founded and became president of the National Space Institute, which was intended to promote better understanding of space exploration among the public. Shortly before von Braun died on June 15, 1977, he was awarded the National Medal of Science by President Gerald Ford.

see also Careers in Rocketry (volume 1); History of Humans in Space (volume 3); Kennedy, John F. (volume 3); Korolev, Sergei (volume 3); Rocket Engines (volume 1); Rockets (volume 3); Tsiolkovsky, Konstantin (volume 3).

Meridel Ellis

Bibliography

Englebert, Phyllis, ed. Astronomy and Space, Vol. 3. New York: UXL,1997.

Swanson, Glen, ed. "Before the Decade Is Out": Personal Reflections on the Apollo Program. Washington, DC: National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 1999.

Internet Resources

Wernher Von Braun: Mastery of Space is Man's Greatest Adventure. Marshall Space Flight Center. <http://www.history.msfc.nasa.gov/vonbraun/mastery.html>.

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von Braun, Wernher

Wernher von Braun (vôn broun), 1912–77, German-American rocket scientist and astronautics engineer, b. Germany, grad. Berlin Technological Institute (B.S., 1932), Univ. of Berlin (Ph.D., 1934). Devoted to the pursuit of rocketry and spaceflight since his teenage years, von Braun assisted Hermann Oberth after 1930 in early experiments in building and firing small liquid fuel rockets. His doctoral studies were funded by the German army, which confiscated and classified his 1934 dissertation. A member of the Nazi party and the SS, von Braun was (1937–45) technical director of the German rocket research center at Peenemünde and was a research professor there from 1943. He was responsible for the successful development of the German V-2 rocket, thousands of which were launched against London and Antwerp during World War II's final year, and he also developed other rocket weapons. At the close of World War II, von Braun, who had buried his records and fled toward the American lines, was brought (1945) to the United States, and soon became a prime figure in the cold war arms race and later in the space program.

From 1945 to 1950 von Braun was technical adviser at the White Sands Proving Grounds and also project director at Fort Bliss, Tex. He went to Huntsville, Ala., in 1950, first as chief of the guided missile development division, Redstone Arsenal (1950–56), and then as director of the development operations division of the Army Ballistic Missile Agency (now the George C. Marshall Space Flight Center). There he developed rockets for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's lunar program, most notably the Saturn rockets used for the Apollo missions. In 1970 he became NASA's deputy associate administrator. Von Braun continued to be an ardent advocate of rocket development and space flight, acting as America's best-known spokesman for space exploration. He became a U.S. citizen in 1955. His writings include Across the Space Frontier (1952), The Exploration of Mars (with Willy Ley, 1956), and First Men to the Moon (1960).

See memoir by E. Stuhlinger and F. I. Ordway, 3d (1994); biographies by H. M. David (1967), E. Bergaust (1976), R. Spangenburg and D. K. Moser (1995), D. Piszkiewicz (1998), B. Ward (2005), and M. J. Neufeld (2007); W. Biddle, Dark Side of the Moon (2009).

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Braun, Wernher von

Braun, Wernher von (1912–77) US rocket engineer, b. Germany. He perfected the V-2 rocket missiles in the early 1940s. In 1945 he went to the USA, becoming a US citizen in 1955. In 1958, von Braun was largely responsible for launching the first US satellite Explorer 1. He later worked on the development of the Saturn rocket (for the Apollo program), and was deputy associate administrator (1970–72) of National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

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Von Braun, Wernher

Von Braun, Wernher (1912–77) US aeronautical engineer, b. Germany. In World War 2, he was responsible for building the v-2 rocket. In 1945, Von Braun went to the USA, where he developed the Jupiter rocket that took the first US satellite, Explorer 1, into space in 1958. In 1960, he joined the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and developed the Saturn rocket that took astronauts to the Moon. See also space exploration

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"Von Braun, Wernher." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 25 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Von Braun, Wernher." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved July 25, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/von-braun-wernher