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From: (Henry Spencer)
Subject: Re: Question about Von Braun
Date: Thu, 10 Feb 2000 20:49:39 GMT

In article <>,
David Roden  <> wrote:
>1) It mentions that the Germans were working on the Redstone in Alabama,
>while development was ongoing (apparently, somewhere else) on Thor,
>Jupiter, Atlas and Titan. My question is, to what extent, if any, did
>Von Braun & co. play any role in the development of any of the other
>early rocket programs?

Jupiter was a successor to Redstone, and was also a von Braun project.
The Huntsville organization run by von Braun played little part in the
others, which were done by various aerospace companies working for the
USAF (von Braun's group was with the Army).  However, not all of the
Peenemuende Germans worked for von Braun all their lives; some went
elsewhere.  They made modest contributions but weren't prominent in
the other early projects.

>In many general history publications, one gets
>the impression that America would never have had a space program without
>the Germans.

That's excessive, although they did play an important part.

>2) The book claims that Ike was told that the Hunstsville group could
>launch a satellite, but deferred to the Vanguard project in the hope
>that the first 'American' satellite would be launched by 'Americans'. Is
>there any truth to this? Sad, if true, but understandable in context.

It's difficult to assess this.  Well into the 1960s, there were people who
hated the Huntsville Germans because of their history; this contributed to
friction between Huntsville and Houston during Apollo.  So that may have
been a factor, especially since Eisenhower is reported to have disliked
Germans in general.

*However*, I don't think it's necessary to invoke this to explain what
happened.  It's clear that the White House badly wanted to establish a
right of peaceful overflight for satellites, for the benefit of spysats.
Consequently, they put a high priority on making the first US satellite as
blatantly non-military as possible, to increase the chances that the
Russians would not protest, allowing it to set a precedent.  It's also
clear that the White House simply didn't think that being first in orbit
mattered.  This alone suffices to explain the decision to give the job to
Vanguard; no sinister deeper motives are required.
The space program reminds me        |  Henry Spencer
of a government agency.  -Jim Baen  |      (aka

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