Profiles in Christianity & Science: Wernher von Braun
- Wednesday, September 21, 2005
In 1934, Adolph Hitler decided that the A-4 would be the ideal system to launch explosives on London. A vengeful man, Hitler ordered the production of such a system and 14 months later a combat version called the V-2 was launched. When the V-2 struck London, von Braun said, "The rocket worked perfectly except for landing on the wrong planet." Wernher wanted to build rockets that would orbit the Earth and go to other planets. He did not want to create bigger and more powerful weapons. Von Braun's talk soon created problems, and he was arrested for crimes against the state. Dornberger managed to get von Braun released, largely because without Wernher there would be no rocket program.
Upon his release, von Braun gathered with his staff and asked them whom they should surrender to. They decided to surrender to the Americans. Using forged papers, they stole a train and led 500 engineers, as well as carloads of V-2 rocket parts, through Germany. Upon learning of this, Hitler gave the order to kill them. All 500 managed to avoid the German army while trying to find the Americans. The opportunity finally came and they surrendered to an American Army private.
On June 20, 1945, the U.S. Secretary of State approved the transfer of the scientists to the U.S. They were kept under heavy guard, being escorted nearly everywhere they went, and sent to Aberdeen Proving Grounds to sort out all of the scientific documentation and rocket parts (some 200 train carloads) they had brought with them. Von Braun, however, was sent to Fort Bliss, Texas where he trained American soldiers, industrialists, and academics on the details of rockets.
In 1950 he was transferred to Huntsville, Alabama where he led the development team at Redstone Army Arsenal. In 1952, Wernher published his dream of a space station used for peaceful purposes. This space station would make an ideal location to set off on lunar expeditions. His enthusiasm and desire to explore space was contagious. Working with Walt Disney, he served as the technical director for three television films on the topic of space exploration.
On July 29, 1958, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was established. Two years later the Marshall Space Flight Center was opened in Huntsville. Wernher and his team were transferred to NASA and he became the center's first director, a position he held for nearly 10 years. During his time at Marshall, the Saturn V rocket, used to send men to the moon on July 16, 1969, was developed. His dream to "help turn the wheel of time" had come true!
[Editor's Note: Next week we'll explore Von Braun, the Christian in Part 2 of this series.]
Ray and Gale Lawson have been homeschooling their 3 children since 1995. Ray holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the Virginia Military Institute and works for Washington Group International. Gale holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of South Carolina and is full-time mom and teacher. They are members of Breezy Hill Baptist Church in Graniteville, SC. Questions, comments and suggestions are always welcomed and can be emailed to them at firstname.lastname@example.org (Ray) or email@example.com (Gale).
This article was originally published in the Jul/Aug '05 issue of Home School Enrichment Magazine as part of an ongoing series of "Profiles in Christianity & Science". For more information, visit http://HomeSchoolEnrichment.com. To request a free sample copy, visit http://homeschoolenrichment.com/magazine/request-sample-issue.html
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