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Historical aspects of the early Soviet/Russian manned space program - page 4 / 12





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After his death, the importance of his work was ac- knowledged, a million dollar settlement was made for the use of his patents, and his name is perpetuated in the Goddard Spaceflight Center in Greenbelt, Mary- land.

In Germany, the potential value of rockets was more clearly seen, and Herman Julius Oberth (1894–1989) formulated many of the technical problems of space- flight, but even there many of his ideas were dismissed as fantasies. Later, he moved to Peenem ¨unde to work with Wernher von Braun and eventually came to the United States.







Any historical survey of manned spaceflight must include a section on Wernher von Braun (1912–1977) because of the critical developments in rocketry that took place in Peenem ¨unde from 1936 to 1945. Although von Braun (Fig. 2) did not directly influence the Soviet space program, remnants of rockets were examined by Soviet engineers, and, as described below, one of the first rockets in the Soviet space program was an iden- tical copy of the main Peenem ¨unde rocket.

von Braun assisted Oberth in work on liquid-pro- pelled rockets in a German rocket society in 1930; however, a few years later, the work was taken over by the army under Gen. Walter Dornberger. The group worked first near Berlin but later moved to Peen-

Fig. 3. A4 rocket developed by Wernher von Braun and his co- workers. This was the first successful suborbital rocket and played an important role in the development of the Soviet manned space program (from Ref. 17).

Fig. 2. Wernher von Braun (1912–1977) who developed the A4 rocket in Peenem ¨unde, Germany during World War II. This had a great influence on both the Soviet and U.S. space programs (from Ref. 14).

em ¨unde in northwest Germany on the Baltic Sea where there was ample space. The most important development was the A4 rocket (Fig. 3), the first rocket to demonstrate the potential of suborbital flight, partly because of its enormous thrust and also the develop- ment of a sophisticated guidance system. In the televi- sion documentary Spaceflight (12), there are dramatic interviews with Wernher von Braun and Krafft Ehricke describing the first successful launch of the A4. The first toppled over to be followed by an enor- mous explosion, the second had better luck but went out of control, and the third streaked skyward until it was out of sight. Everybody immediately recognized

J Appl Physiol VOL 91 OCTOBER 2001 www.jap.org

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