Wernher von Braun was the leader of what has been called the "rocket team," which had developed the German V-2 ballistic missile in World War II. Attended institutes of technology in Berlin and Zurich and received doctorate in physics at the University of Berlin in 1934. Joined the rocket experimental center in Peenemunde in 1937 and was director of research until 1945; his work and that of his colleagues led to development of the V-1 and V-2 guided missiles used against the Allies during World War II. Surrendered to U.S. Army in 1945. Von Braun and some of his chief assistants--as part of a military operation called Project Paperclip--came to America and were installed at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, to work on rocket development and use the V-2 for high altitude research. They used launch facilities at the nearby White Sands Proving Ground in New Mexico. Later, in 1950 von Braun's team moved to the Redstone Arsenal near Huntsville, Alabama, to concentrate on the development of a new missile for the Army. They built the Army's Jupiter ballistic missile, and before that the Redstone, used by NASA to launch the first Mercury capsules.
After being moved to NASA, von Braun led his rocket team in the development - within only six years - of the monster Saturn I and Saturn V boosters, that took America to the moon. Von Braun's long standing dream of moving on to his personal life ojective - Mars - was crushed by the Nixon administration and a public grown jaded and indifferent to spaceflight. Von Braun died at Alexandria, Virginia just five years after leaving NASA after being sidelined into a headquarters job.
Birth Place: Wiersitz.
With the V-2 development program already in crisis, the Allies launch a massive bombing raid against Peenemuende. On that evening test pilot Hanna Reitsch was visiting the launch site. At 23:30 the air raid siren sounded. 600 British bombers drop 1500 tonnes of ordnance on the launch centre. However many bombs fell in the ocean around the peninsula, or buried themselves harmlessly in sand dunes. The resident area was hardest hit, while the Luftwaffe station at Peenemuende West was not touched. 47 British bombers were shot down - they were told before the raid that this was the most important mission of the war, and that their commanders would accept a 50% loss rate. 735 people were killed in the raid on the ground, including 178 of the 4000 inhabitants of the residential area. A large number of the foreign slave workers in the Trassenheide concentration camp barracks were also killed.
After the tremendous raid the rocket team wander around the devastated facility, half-clothed, the buildings bathed in a weird light and everything covered in fine sand, as if flour was dropped over everything. Thiel and Walther - the two leading rocket engineers in Germany - were killed in the raid, and virtually all major facilities were damaged. The saving grace was that the soft sand of Peenemuende attenuated the blast of many bombs. Nine bombs hit the main assembly hall, but while there was splinter damage to some of the machine tools, there was no decisive hit that would prevent production from continuing. It was estimated that operations could resume in 4 to 6 weeks.
The raid was not unexpected. The high altitude contrails of the V-2 test launches were called 'frozen lightning' and could be seen from Sweden on clear days. The location and purpose of Peenemuende appeared in a crossword puzzle in a illustrated magazine published in central Germany in early 1943. British reconnaissance flights to locate the launch facilities had been recognised for what they were.
This raid, together with the bombing of V-2 production lines at the Zeppelinwerke in Friedrichshafen and the Raxwerke in Wiener Neustadt convinced Saur to reduce the V-2 production rate goal to 900 per month.
The Sub-Board would :
Four Saturn-Apollo Coordination Panels were established to make available the technical competence of MSFC and STG for the solution of interrelated problems of the launch vehicle and the spacecraft. The four included the Launch Operations, Mechanical Design, Electrical and Electronics Design, and Flight Mechanics, Dynamics, and Control Coordination Panels. Although these Panels were designated as new Panels, the members selected by STG and MSFC represented key technical personnel who had been included in the Mercury-Redstone Panels, the Mercury-Atlas Program Panels, the Apollo Technical Liaison Groups, and the Saturn working groups. The Charter was signed by von Braun and Gilruth. Charter of the MSFC-STG Space Vehicle Board, October 3, 1961.
Briefly MSFC proposed to transfer to MSC:
Von Braun said that Ernst Stuhlinger of the Research Projects Laboratory had discussed the proposed actions for transfer of functions to MSC, and MSC Experiments Program Manager Robert O. Piland had indicated his general agreement, pending further consideration. He asked that Gilruth give his reaction to the proposal and said, "It would be very helpful if our two Centers could present a proposal to George Mueller (OMSF) on which we both agree."
Young scientists from an academic environment found changing from a research scientist to a science administrator difficult; they often preferred active research to desk-and-meetings career.
Many scientists were reluctant to accept the long times between conceptual design and data gathering in space experiments - often 6 to 10 years. The question was not only of patience, graduate student support, and funding continuity, but also of scientific obsolescence.
Scientists felt that science was not as well represented in upper NASA management as were engineering and project management and that high-level decisions were often made without consideration of scientific viewpoints. While recognizing that the space program also had other prime objectives - such as advancement of technology, national achievement, applications, earth resources, and "bringing the world closer together" - they felt that "science is still a stepchild in this family of program objectives."
The analysis said that a good portion of the problems could be relieved by actions taken by Centers and NASA Hq. over the next few months and years. NASA space projects should be structured to give more scientists an opportunity to launch experiments. With the few present scientific flights, only a few scientists could hope to have their experiments flown in their lifetimes. The situation would improve when the Space Shuttle and Space Station were available, but that would not be before 1978 or 1979. With low emphasis on OAO, HEAO, Pioneer, ATM, and planetary flights suggested by the President's Space Task Group, "we will have almost no good flight experiments prepared, and almost no scientists left in the program, by the time the gates of the shuttle and the station open for science."
NASA should also find ways to reduce the time span between conception and flight of an experiment. "For Bill Kraushaar, who proposed a measurement of gamma rays with a simple (now almost obsolete) sensor on a Saturn launch vehicle, this time is now 8 years, with no end in sight." For the Apollo telescope mount principal investigators, "this time will be 8 years, provided that ATM-A is launched early in 1972."
The Shuttle promised great improvements, but "initiation or continuation of unmanned, relatively unsophisticated spacecraft projects for science payloads" was "highly desirable."
Procedures for proposal, screening, selection, acceptance, and final approval of experiments were "exceedingly cumbersome and time consuming." Streamlining requirements after approval - early definition, documentation, reporting, reviews, and administrative actions - as well as the maze of committees, boards, panels, and offices, was urgently recommended.
"Many scientists inside and outside NASA have suggested that NASA should establish, at a high level in the Administrator's Office, a 'Chief Scientist' position with no other functions than to act as a spokesman for . . . scientists who wish to participate in the space program."