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Wernher von Braun

Wernher von Braun
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Wernher von Braun (engl)
Wernher von Braun stands at his desk in the , in May 1964, with models of rockets developed and in progress.


Wernher Magnus Maximilian von Braun (, – , ) was one of the leading figures in the development of technology in and the . The German , who led Germany's rocket development program () before and during , entered the United States at the end of the war through the then-secret . He became a naturalized and worked on the American program before joining , where he served as director of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center and the chief architect of the launch vehicle, the superbooster that propelled the United States to the Moon. He is generally regarded as the of the . Wernher von Braun received the in . He was tall, articulate and spoke English with a distinctive German accent. He was buried at the in .
Early life
Wernher von Braun was born in , in the German Kingdom of . He was born second of three sons with an impressive pedigree. His father, the conservative politician (1877-1972), served as a Minister of Agriculture in the Federal Cabinet during the . His mother, Emmy von Quistorp (3.11.1886-1959) through both her parents could trace ancestry to medieval European , including King , and King through his father, and King through his mother, through the son of Nikolaus von Tecklenburg by Catharina Waterfoer, by whom he descended by seven lines of King and his wife . He also had a younger brother, also named , born in 1919. Upon Wernher von Braun's , his mother gave him a telescope, and he discovered a passion for astronomy and the realm of . When, as a result of the , Wirsitz became part of in 1920, his family, like many other German families, moved. They settled in , where at first von Braun did not do well in and until he acquired a copy of the book (The Rocket into Interplanetary Space) by rocket pioneer . From then on, he applied himself at school in order to understand physics and mathematics. During this period, the 12-year-old von Braun, inspired by speed records established by and , caused a major disruption by firing off a toy wagon to which he had attached a number of . The youngster was taken into custody by the local police until his father came to collect him.
In 1930, von Braun attended the , where he joined the (VfR, the "Spaceflight Society") and assisted in liquid-fueled rocket motor tests. After receiving his degree, he commenced postgraduate studies at the , earning a in physics () on , .
The idea of space travel had always fascinated von Braun, and even as a boy he had experimented with a rocket-propelled wagon down a crowded street in Berlin, Germany, earning himself a stern lecture from police. Von Braun continued to pursue his interest in rocketry, however, and at the age of twenty was appointed chief of the German army's rocket corps. Although he worked mainly with military rockets for many years, space travel remained his primary goal.
German career
The Prussian rocketeer
Von Braun was working on his doctorate when an artillery captain, , arranged an Ordnance Department research grant for him, and von Braun then worked next to Dornberger's existing solid-fuel rocket test site at . He received his doctorate two years later and by the end of 1934, his group had successfully launched two rockets that rose to heights of 2.2 and 3.5 .
At the time, was highly interested in American physicist 's research. Before , German scientists occasionally contacted Goddard directly with technical questions. After that, things got rather tense. Wernher von Braun used Goddard's plans from various journals and incorporated them into the building of the Aggregat 4 (A-4) series of rockets - better known as the V-2. In , von Braun reflected on the history of rocketry, and said of Goddard's work: "His rockets .

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