When they were finally ushered into his presence, Dornberger was shocked at the terrible and changed appearance of the Fuehrer. The team begins their briefing, in the presence of Hitler, Keitel, Jodl, Butale, and Speer. The presentation began with a film of preparations and launch of an A4 on the 3 October 1942. Von Braun narrated the film, which had proven a real crowd-pleaser in the past. It showed the A4 in production at the vast assembly hall at Peenemuende, the vertical roll-out, the huge launch complex, and finally launch. Von Braun then presented a model and plans for the hardened production/launch bunker that was being built on the English Channel.
Hitler loved the bunker model, and declared he wanted to build not one, but three such facilities. Dornberger argued that mobile launchers would be militarily less vulnerable and less costly, but Hitler was unconvinced. The 7 m thick bunker walls, he declared, would 'draw every allied bomber like flies to honey. Every bomb they drop there will be one that does not fall on Germany'. Hitler asks if the payload can be increased to 10 tonnes (in order to accommodate a nuclear warhead) or if a 2,000 per month production rate was possible (in order to make mass attacks on Britain with conventional explosive or chemical payloads). Dornberger replies that it would take four to five years to develop a missile with greater payload, and that production was limited by the German industrial capacity for alcohol (used as fuel in the missile).
Dornberger noted that they did not dream of the possibility of short-term availability of nuclear energy in 1936, when the specifications for the missile were set. In any case, after the loss of the heavy water plant in Norway, it would take years to develop nuclear weapons. Hitler was visibly upset that the V-2 would not turn out to be a war-deciding weapon. But Dornberger pointed out it was a great psychological weapon - unstoppable, something against their which there was no defence.
Hitler stated that 'I have only had to excuse myself to two men in my life - and one of them was von Brauchtisch, who always championed the importance of your work, and the other is you. If we had this weapon in 1939, Britain would have conceded, and there would have been no war.
Hitler finally ordered that the V-1 and V-2 missile programs be given the highest priority in the defence ministry. Immediately needed staff and material began flowing into the program. Saur immediately ordered a production goal of 2,000 missiles per month, despite the fact that there was no prospect of producing enough alcohol fuel or training enough launch crews to actual fire the missiles at such a rate. However, there was no disagreement, since any industry leader who did not commit to meeting this production goal was threatened with immediate replacement. German alcohol production would mean the maximum number that could ever be fired was 900 per month.
The idea of plugging the vent with a finger is absurd. Had they done so, they would have had only 15 to 17 minutes to work the problem before the onset of G-forces. Imagine the real situation - retrofire was normal - the BO module jettisoned - suddenly the depress light on the caution warning panel is on! Dobrovolsky checks the hatch, but it's not the hatch -- and there are only 25 to 30 seconds until they all become unconscious. Volkov and Patsayev undo their straps and turn on the radio. The whistling of the air can only be heard at the commander's seat - where the vent valve is located. Kamanin discontinues diary entries for two years after this date.
Progress-M35, approach and docking: Again all went of old: a stable and reliable execution of this operation by the automatic system Kurs. The docking took place on 7.07.1997 at 05.59.24 UTC. During Mir's orbit 65015 from 0549-0554 UTC the approach was going on. At AOS the Progress-M35 was in a distance of 147 M. Tsibliyev reported very little deviations in the course and attitude of Progress-M35. There was a stable GSO (gyrostabilised orientation) and all went so successful that Tsibliyev could load some date, given him by TsUP, in a computer. Just before LOS the distance was still 120 M and the approach was continued with a speed of 30 cm\sec.
During the next passes they did not speak about the opening of the hatches to Progress-M35. The main subject was the good functioning of the gyrodynes, the good attitude of the complex and the fact that the solar arrays had been turned to a good angle in relation to the sun. The accumulators could be fully charged. The crew has to remove temporarily the spacesuits from the P.Kh.O. (transition section) to get more room for the transfer of goods from Progress-M35 to the rest of the complex.
The Russians deserve a heartfelt 'Molodtsy' (well done fine fellows). But please let those responsible for Russian manned spaceflight as soon as possible make a deal with the Ukrainian factory Khartron for the restoration of the delivery of the system Kurs. In that way docking-operations can be executed with a 99.99% reliability!! Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.