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Sat Jun 15, 2019, 10:09 PM

'Chasing the Moon' Shows Nazi Past of Engineer Wernher Von Braun in Early Space Program (Video)

By Elizabeth Howell 10 hours ago

A new clip from the forthcoming PBS series "Chasing the Moon" shows the Nazi past of Wernher von Braun, one of NASA's top rocket engineers from the early days of American spaceflight.

The clip, provided exclusively to Space.com by PBS, shows historic footage of the United States' first satellite flight and several scenes featuring von Braun.

The series premieres July 8 to 10 (all nights at 9 p.m. EDT) on PBS, just days before July 20, the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing. On the first night, the series touches on von Braun, who led the design of Apollo's Saturn V rocket and who also boosted America's first satellite into space in 1958.

Explorer 1's successful launch on Jan. 31 of that year aboard the von Braun team's Juno rocket (a modified Jupiter missile) was a much-needed triumph for the United States, which was still reeling from the Soviet Union's launch of Sputnik in 1957. The Americans' first attempt at a satellite launch in 1957, on top of a Vanguard rocket, had ended in a dramatic explosion dubbed "Kaputnik" by some of the press. (The satellite survived and rolled ignominiously into some bushes near the pad, cheerfully beeping as it was designed to do.)


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Reply 'Chasing the Moon' Shows Nazi Past of Engineer Wernher Von Braun in Early Space Program (Video) (Original post)
Judi Lynn Jun 15 OP
CentralMass Jun 15 #1
Igel Jun 16 #2

Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Sat Jun 15, 2019, 11:44 PM

1. I have a hard time not hearing the Tom Lehrer song in my head when I see his name.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Sun Jun 16, 2019, 08:57 AM

2. The Nazis pushed rocketry.

A lot. So we got von Braun after the war, with some of his team.

There was a small tome published in the early '70s called the "Soviet Space Bluff" published by Posev (in Germany--it's an obscure publisher). One thing that the author did in great detail was document the extent to which the Soviet space effort was a continuation of the Nazi program, using the same staff. Not von Braun, of course, he was our war booty.

Not only did the Soviets get manpower from the Nazi effort, they're also the ones that got the documentation and the equipment.

Unlike the Soviet space effort, though, in which deaths and failures were classified and not known until the 1990s, the US failures and problems were widely discussed. Many confused the Soviet repression of information with Soviet capability, a confusion assisted by a desire to not see the Soviet Union as repressive but instead as a beacon of light and freedom (and, if nothing else, as pushback against the Great Satan).

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