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Thursday, November 08, 2007

50-Years Ago von Braun Gets Go to Launch America into Space

Dr. Wernher von Braun's Redstone Arsenal rocket team got the go to launch Explorer-1 fifty years ago today after a month of anguish in Washington political circles about the accomplishments of the Soviet Union with the orbital success of Sputnik-1 and Sputnik-2.

Historians now document that the von Braun's rocket engineering group had the vehicle to place a satellite around the Earth for the better part of a year before the Soviets. It was known as the Jupiter-C.

The Juno-1, as it became to be known, launched America's first orbital satellite - the Explorer-1, on 31 January 1958. It could have been launched as soon as September 1956 many accounts say.

Historians now suggest that President Dwight D. Eisenhower intentionally held back American space technology to allow the Soviets to orbit the first spacecraft, Sputnik-1, so as to enable the "Open Skies" policy of free flying orbital satellites. Eisenhower wanted space to be free of geopolitical territorial overflight claims. Thereby, the President allowed the Russians to go first.

Dr. von Braun went on to design the Saturn-V booster rocket that ultimately carried humans to the Moon first in 1969.


Sam Wise said...

Your penultimate paragraph is a misinterpretation of recently released information. Eisenhower didn't hold technology back to let the Soviets go first -- he held von Braun back because he (Eisenhower) wanted a non-military launcher to send up the first satellite. That, plus a lot of folks in the U.S. military still weren't keen on relying on former Nazis for cutting edge technology.

This meant that both the USAF (which wanted to use the Atlas ICBM) and the Army / von Braun teams (which wanted to use a modified IRBM) had to give the Vanguard team a fair shot to get something up first.

n said...


An A-Hole who made rockets with slaves. Please add that to the bio. My friend was there! He saw the bastard standing beside. and ignoring him while he was beaten for droping a bag of cement in the wrong place.
Von B. is in hell!