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German Rocket Scientist Wernher von Braun

Welcome to Epitaph for D’s Art Takes. Here we present the creative legacies of some of the most influential people, who are no longer amongst us. Today we invite you to take a look at the life of the German Rocket Scientist Wernher von Braun.

A Touch of Genius

Wernher von Braun was born in 1912 in Germany’s Wirsitz, formerly a part of Poland. A bright mind from the beginning, one of von Braun’s first passions was outer space. His obsession began with being gifted a telescope by his mother.

Von Braun studied mechanical engineering at the Berlin Institute of Technology. He also earned a doctorate in Physics from the University of Berlin. During the course of his scholastic pursuits, von Braun began work on a project relating to research in rocketry.  For this he received sponsorship from Ordnance Department of Germany.

World War II

By the 1940s, von Braun, who was part of the Nazi party, and his team had developed weapons that caught the eye of Adolf Hitler. They invented a supersonic anti-aircraft missile Wasserfall. They also created a ballistic missile A-4 (later known as V-2 – Vengeance Weapon 2). About the V2, the website of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) reads :

“A liquid propellant missile 46 feet in length and weighing 27,000 pounds, the V-2 flew at speeds in excess of 3,500 miles per hour and delivered a 2,200-pound warhead to a target 200 miles away.”

Upon the occupation of Germany by the Allied forces, von Braun surrendered himself willingly to the U.S. and started work for the U.S. army.


Von Braun worked America for some time, on several prestigious launch vehicle projects including Jupiter C and Saturn I. In the 1960s, he was appointed the director of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. Von Braun retired from NASA in 1972. He died in 1977.

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