The Hill School
Werner von Braun
The German who Put the Americans on the Moon
Twentieth century history
May 25, 2017
Mankind has always dreamed of reaching the heavens. From the ancient world to modern day, man’s obsession with space has grown from studying stars to actual stellar exploration. Mankind has come a long way since the time of primitive charts of constellations. From telescopes to satellites, what once seemed impossible is now commonplace. However, without Nazi Germany, the world would not have the technological advances that it boasts of today. A crucial piece of technology that began in Nazi Germany, the V-2 rocket, proved to be one the most important new technologies developed. Specifically, its automatic guidance system which operated independently of controllers on the ground. With the destination “programmed” into the on-board analogue computer, once a rocket was in flight, its gyroscopes could continuously track the craft’s position in three dimensions. This marvel of engineering was brought to life thanks to one man, Werner von Braun. Von Braun accompanied by his colleagues was moved to the United States as participants of Operation Paperclip. von Braun quickly became the figure head for space exploration. With von Braun's push for space travel, his status at NASA and his multiple accomplishments including the Saturn V, von Braun brought space travel to the mind of America. Von Braun was the “prophet” of space exploration and arguably the most important man to the United States’ space program. [footnoteRef:1] [1: Willams, Robin. "Wernher Von Braun.", May 2, 2001, 2001.]
First and foremost, von Braun was a brilliant engineer with an unmatched vision. In addition, von Braun’s promotion and push for U.S. involvement in space was unrelenting. von Braun’s ability to manage thousands of people with ease and ability to make a complex matter simple made him suitable for nearly every position he was assigned. His appearance on multiple platforms as an expert on space travel boosted his status to that of a national hero. Also von Braun’s success with the Jupiter-C rocket that went into orbit helped spark public interest in space travel.[footnoteRef:2] von Braun was not political by nature. The team he ran was largely independent from other government agencies and relied solely on the army until the creation of NASA. He had no ulterior motives such as trying to appease the U.S. government. [2: Willams, Robin. "Wernher Von Braun.", May 2, 2001, 2001.]
von Braun once said, “I have learned to use the word ‘impossible’ with great caution.”[footnoteRef:3] When von Braun spoke those words, he wittingly or unwittingly echoed his accomplishments. One of Braun’s most stunning accomplishments was his successful launch of the Jupiter C, the first U.S. satellite launched into orbit. von Braun and his commanding officer were only partially aware of what the rocket could do. Still, von Braun's superior, Maj. Gen. John B....