The development history of human aerospace industry has grown and grown under the unremitting efforts of several generations of astronauts. Among the many heroes who have successfully passed the aerospace “baton” and realized the dream of mankind’s exploration of space, von Braun is the most important and special one.
Braun’s achievements in rockets have opened up two eras for mankind: one is the era of ballistic missiles in the history of war. This achievement has given him a mixed reputation in history, and also proves that technology can both create civilization and destroy. Mankind; the other is the era of mankind landing on the moon. Without this pioneer of modern aerospace, mankind’s moon landing from dream to reality would have to be delayed for at least several decades.
Braun was born in a noble family in eastern Germany and moved to Berlin with his parents when he grew up. Braun’s mother was an amateur astronomer and once gave the young Braun an astronomical telescope to encourage him to explore space.
Braun has been full of adventurous spirits since he was a child. Once, he bought 6 large firecrackers from the store, tied them to the scooter as a booster and set them on fire. With a loud noise, the scooter turned into a “rocket car”. Although Braun was criticized by the police and his parents for this, he also planted a “rocket-making” seed in his heart.
In 1934, at the age of 22, Braun received a doctorate in physics from the University of Berlin, Germany. In his doctoral dissertation, he discussed in detail all aspects of the theory and experiment of liquid propellant rocket engines, which was listed as a secret document by the school. Later, the German military classified his papers as state secrets, and it was not until 1960 that they agreed to decrypt them. It can be seen that Braun, at a young age, already had an extraordinary understanding of aerospace technology.
With the outbreak of the Second World War, Braun’s ingenuity and research results were used by the German military. Braun had to cooperate with the German Nazis to study new long-range weapons with the help of the army. But from the beginning to the end, Braun has not forgotten his dream of space, looking forward to one day able to display his scientific ambitions.
In the book “Von Braun: Space Dreamer and Destruction Engineer”, Michael Newfield, an expert in the History and Archives Department of the National Space and Aviation Museum of the United States, wrote: “From the age of 16, he was addicted to rocket experiments. , Determination and enthusiasm exist for only one goal, that is, to allow mankind to enter the universe. The Nazi regime used Braun to complete its own crimes of destroying humanity, far less than the latter used the former to complete his ideal of exploring the territory of mankind. .”
Braun and Ballistic Missiles
As early as 1929, the German army had begun to explore the possibility of using jet-propelled rockets to carry bombs, recruiting talents in rocket technology across the country. In 1932, Braun, who was still studying at university, joined the German army and officially became a military rocket expert.
After the Nazis came to power, Hitler attached great importance to the rocket as a weapon and allocated a large amount of funds to support rocket development. The R&D team led by Braun was able to show its talents and had an independent laboratory and factory. Soon, in 1934, two A-2 rockets were successfully launched.
When the Second World War broke out in 1939, the rocket research and development technology accumulated in the early stage of Germany came in handy and became the killer of the German army. At the end of 1942, Hitler was ecstatic about the success of a series of new rockets. He couldn’t wait to produce more rockets for retaliatory bombing of Britain.
But Braun flinched and used advanced rocket technology for war, contrary to his pursuit. In desperation, Braun began to treat work negatively, but was thrown into prison by the “Gestapo” (German Nazi terrorist organization) in the name of delaying rocket production. After two weeks of imprisonment, the German Nazis realized that Braun was in the rocket. It has an unparalleled role in research and development, and he has to be released.
On the evening of September 8, 1944, a flash of light flashed over London, England, and the power station on the banks of the Thames was hit by a UFO and exploded. Later British talents understood that the so-called UFOs were actually V-2 rockets and missiles, a new weapon developed by the Germans. Among them, V is derived from the German Vergeltung, which means means of revenge, symbolizing Germany’s revenge against Britain.
The V-2 rocket missile flew extremely fast, and no aircraft could intercept it at that time. This not only symbolized that the history of human war has entered the era of ballistic missiles, but also marked the entry of a new era in rocket technology.
When Braun learned that the V-2 rocket missile he was responsible for researched and developed successfully attacked London, he fell into deep self-blame. He called that day “the darkest day in life” and told his colleagues: “Our rockets It performed well, but it landed on the wrong planet.”
Dreaming back to space will never regret
Fortunately, Braun’s self-blame did not last long before Germany surrendered to the Allied forces. Braun saw that Germany was over. In order to realize his dream of space, he surrendered to the United States with his research results over the years.
Interestingly, when the U.S. military found Braun and his team in the factory in the suburbs, Braun’s brother served as a negotiator. He told the Americans in broken English: “My brother is Braun, V -2 Rocket and missile designers, now we have surrendered.” The Americans were overjoyed, because Braun was ranked first on the US military’s “black list” and belonged to the most important scientists who should be brought back to the United States.
Braun thought that from then on, he could get rid of the German Nazis and concentrate on aerospace. But when Braun and other German scientists came to the United States together, they discovered that the US military only wanted him to develop more accurate and advanced weapons. After the outbreak of the Korean War, Braun’s main job was to design the first generation of intercontinental ballistic missiles for the United States, but his dream of space has always been hidden in his heart.
In October 1957, the Soviet Union successfully launched the world’s first artificial earth satellite. The US government was shocked and realized that space is not out of reach. At this time, Braun, who was confident, stepped forward and issued a pledge to the Department of Defense, promising to send a US satellite into space within 90 days. Sure enough, under the efforts of Braun and thousands of technicians, 84 days later, the US satellite was successfully launched. Braun’s genius ability is obvious to all.
In the early 1960s, Braun had been fighting for the aerospace industry for 30 years. He finally saw that his rocket base was changed to a space flight center under the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and finally got rid of his ingenuity. Used in self-blame for the development of destructive weapons. So, with a long-term vision, he once again made an amazing decision-to launch a human lunar landing program.
In 1967, Braun designed the world’s most powerful rocket at the time-the Saturn 5 launch vehicle. In 1969, when American astronaut Armstrong successfully reached the moon on the Apollo 11 spacecraft, a person in charge from the base command center couldn’t help chanting: “The footprints you left are also those of Dr. Braun.” Braun reached the pinnacle of what he loved.
Mankind has never stopped exploring space. It is precisely because Braun dared to pursue his ideals and did not give up lightly, his space dream went from seemingly out of reach to truly illuminating reality. Therefore, we have to be like Braun, not only to have dreams, but also to learn the wisdom of the predecessors, so that we can burst out the spark of creation and turn dreams into reality.