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Debus, Kurt Heinrich
German-American engineer. At Peenemuende from 1940, designed and operated V-2 test launch facility. In US from 1945, headed design, build, and operation of launch facilities for the V-2, Redstone, Jupiter, and Saturn rockets for Apollo.

Born: 1908-11-29. Died: 1983-10-04. Birth Place: Germany.

Debus obtained a doctorate in electrical engineering from the Technical University of Darmstadt in 1939. He was on track for a chair there, but World War II intervened and he ended up on von Braun's rocket team at Peenemuende. There he laid out the V-2 test launch facility and eventually headed its operation. In 1945 he came to the United States with von Braun's rocket team, becoming head of V-2 launch operations in New Mexico, then moved with the team to the Army's Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama in 1950.

Debus was instrumental in selecting Cape Canaveral for the Bumper-Wac V-2 two-stage launch vehicle test and subsequent long-range Redstone missile tests. From 1952 Debus was chief of the missile firing laboratory of the Army Ballistic Missile Agency at Cape Canaveral. When von Braun's team became part of NASA in 1960, Debus continued to supervise site selection, design, construction, and launch operations of the Saturn I and Saturn V rockets through completion of the Apollo moon-landing and Skylab space station projects. He retired from NASA in 1974, becoming a supervisory board chairman of the German OTRAG firm, which sought to develop low-cost storable liquid propellant rockets to be launched from Congo and Libya. This plan was thwarted by the big powers on grounds of ballistic missile proliferation, and to defend their high-cost commercial launch industries.

Debus was professorial, methodical, serious and orderly - he would take items he deemed nonessential from other people's desks and throw them in the trash. His authoritarian single-mindedness was ideal for conceiving and executing the concepts for the Saturn V launch facility in 1961-1968, and essential to accomplishing the 100% launch success rate for the largest boosters ever built - and winning the moon race for the United States.

Country: Germany, USA. Bibliography: 4472, 535, 5312.

1908 November 29 - .
1961 June 23 - .
1961 July 31 - .
1961 November 6 - .
1964 December 24 - .
1966 October 13 - . Launch Vehicle: Little Joe II.
1967 February 4 - .
1967 April 21 - .
1967 July 18 - .
1967 November 3-December 19 - .
1968 August 8 - .
1968 August 14 - . Launch Vehicle: Saturn V.
1969 December 18 - . LV Family: Saturn I. Launch Vehicle: Saturn IB.
1983 October 4 - .

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