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Wernher von Braun

Wernher von Braun (March 23, 1912 – June 16, 1977) was a German rocket scientist, aerospace engineer, space architect, and one of the leading figures in the development of rocket technology in Nazi Germany during World War II and, subsequently, in the United States. He is credited as being the “Father of Rocket Science”.


In his 20s and early 30s, von Braun was the central figure in Germany’s rocket development program, responsible for the design and realization of the V-2 combat rocket during World War II. After the war, he and select members of his rocket team were taken to the United States as part of the then-secret Operation Paperclip. Von Braun worked on the United States Army intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM) program before his group was assimilated by NASA. [Source]

Under NASA, he served as director of the newly formed Marshall Space Flight Center and as the chief architect of the Saturn V launch vehicle, the superbooster that propelled the Apollo spacecraft to the Moon. According to one NASA source, he is “without doubt, the greatest rocket scientist in history” [Source].

In the photo above, Dr. von Braun stands by the five F-1 engines of the Saturn V Dynamic Test Vehicle on display at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The engines measured 19-feet tall by 12.5-feet at the nozzle exit and burned 15 tons of liquid oxygen and kerosene each second to produce 7,500,000 pounds of thrust. [Source]