Wernher von Braun

German-American aerospace engineer (1912–1977) / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Wernher Magnus Maximilian Freiherr von Braun (US: /ˌvɜːrnər vɒn ˈbrn/ VUR-nər von BROWN, German: [ˌvɛʁnheːɐ̯ fɔn ˈbʁaʊ̯n]; 23 March 1912  16 June 1977) was a German-American aerospace engineer[3] and space architect. He was a member of the Nazi Party and Allgemeine SS, and the leading figure in the development of rocket technology in Nazi Germany and later a pioneer of rocket and space technology in the United States.[4]

Quick facts: Wernher von Braun, Born, Died, Burial place, ...
Wernher von Braun
Von Braun in 1960
Wernher Magnus Maximilian, Freiherr von Braun

(1912-03-23)23 March 1912
Died16 June 1977(1977-06-16) (aged 65)
Burial placeIvy Hill Cemetery[1]
CitizenshipUnited States
Occupation(s)Rocket engineer and designer, aerospace project manager
Known forNASA engineering program manager; chief architect of the Apollo Saturn V rocket; development of the V-2 rocket for Nazi Germany
Political partyNazi Party (1937–1945)
Maria Luise von Quistorp
(m. 1947)
Military career
AllegianceNazi Germany
Service/branchAllgemeine SS
Years of service1937–1945
RankSS-Sturmbannführer (major)
Scientific career
FieldsRocket propulsion
ThesisKonstruktive, theoretische und experimentelle Beiträge zu dem Problem der Flüssigkeitsrakete (1934)
Doctoral advisorErich Schumann

As a young man, von Braun worked in Nazi Germany's rocket development program. He helped design and co-developed the V-2 rocket at Peenemünde during World War II. The V-2 became the first artificial object to travel into space on 20 June 1944. Following the war, he was secretly moved to the United States, along with about 1,600 other German scientists, engineers, and technicians, as part of Operation Paperclip.[5] He worked for the United States Army on an intermediate-range ballistic missile program, and he developed the rockets that launched the United States' first space satellite Explorer 1 in 1958. He worked with Walt Disney on a series of films, which popularized the idea of human space travel in the U.S. and beyond from 1955 to 1957.[6]

In 1960, his group was assimilated into NASA, where he served as director of the newly formed Marshall Space Flight Center and as the chief architect of the Saturn V super heavy-lift launch vehicle that propelled the Apollo spacecraft to the Moon.[7][8] In 1967, von Braun was inducted into the National Academy of Engineering, and in 1975, he received the National Medal of Science.

Von Braun is a highly controversial figure widely seen as escaping justice for his Nazi war crimes due to the Americans' desire to beat the Soviets in the Cold War.[9][10][4] He is also sometimes described by others as the "father of space travel",[11] the "father of rocket science",[12] or the "father of the American lunar program".[9] He advocated a human mission to Mars.

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