Gallery 9b1: Road not taken: Army Ballistic Missile Agency
Appointment as Army Ballistic Missile Agency Research Engineer: Selected for position of Mechanical Engineer at Army Ballistic Missile Agency (ABMA) at Redstone Arsenal (Cape Canaveral, Florida; Huntsville, Alabama (see excerpt of 12/3/1956 ABMA letter at "Information on engineering position at ABMA" below and at "Synopsis of correspondence" below). Accepted the assigned position as Research Engineer (Aeronautical Instrumentation) in ABMA Missile Firing Laboratory (under Wernher von Braun, director of development operations division) at Port Canaveral, Florida (see excerpt of 4/24/1957 letter at "Information on engineering position at ABMA" below and at "Synopsis of correspondence" below).
Army Ballistic Missile Agency role in American space program: See, e.g., John F. Guilmartin, Jr., Rocket and missile system, BRITANNICA (last updated June 26, 2014) (emphasis added), http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/1357360/rocket-and-missile-system/57332/Strategic-missiles (“Ballistic missiles are rocket-propelled weapons that travel by momentum in a high, arcing trajectory after they have been launched into flight by a brief burst of power.”). See, also, generally, http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/1357360/rocket-and-missile-system (“A ballistic missile is propelled by a rocket engine for only the first part of its flight; for the rest of the flight the unpowered missile follows an arcing trajectory, small adjustments being made by its guidance mechanism.”).
Wernher von Braun was an important scientist/engineer in America’s development of rocketry, ballistic missiles, space satellites, and space flight. See, e.g., Werner von Braun: Scientist Enshrined 1982, 1912-1977, HONORING AEROSPACE LEGENDS TO INSPIRE FUTURE LEADERS, NATIONAL AVIATION HALL OF FAME (2011) (emphasis added), http://www.nationalaviation.org/von-braun-wernher/ (“His hard work, dedication, and research paved the way for the peaceful exploration of space, landings on the moon, and the sending of inquisitive spacecraft out into the cosmos.”). His role in advancing America's role in space is noted:
Meanwhile, after von Braun became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1955, the United States placed its highest priority on ballistic missile development, and the “Jupiter” intermediate range missile began under von Braun’s direction. Afterwards, he was named director of the Development Operations Division of the Army Ballistic Missile Agency, with direct responsibility for the Jupiter.
. . . .
The Soviet Union’s groundbreaking Sputnik-1, the world’s first artificial satellite finally shook America out of its apathy regarding space. Quickly, the government authorized von Braun to develop the four-stage “Juno-1″ satellite launcher. Now the race is on between the Vanguard and the Juno-1 to launch the first American satellite. But when the Vanguard explodes at launch, President Eisenhower quickly approved von Braun’s group to use a Jupiter to put the Explorer-1 satellite into Earth orbit on January 31st, 1958. Von Braun had put America into the space age.
See, also, e.g., Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica, Wernher von Braun, BRITANNICA (last updated May 4, 2014) (emphasis added), http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/78018/Wernher-von-Braun (“German engineer who played a prominent role in all aspects of rocketry and space exploration, first in Germany and after World War II in the United States.”). Id. (“In 1955 he became a U.S. citizen and, characteristically, accepted citizenship wholeheartedly. During the 1950s Braun became a national and international focal point for the promotion of space flight.”).
Employment subject to U.S. Navy approval: Employment at ABMA subject to U.S. Navy's approval (see excerpt of 2/14/1957 AMBA letter at "Information on engineering position at ABMA" below and at "Synopsis of correspondence" below). ABMA letter makes clear that "we have. no jurisdiction in military assignments at this Agency" and "very few Navy personnel [are] assigned to ABMA" though “our understanding that at the time you enter the service you are given your choice of assignments. However, these requests are not always approved."
U.S. Navy denial of assignment: I requested that the U.S. Navy issue orders reassigning me to report to the ABMA to replace the original orders assigning me to U.S. Navy Supply Corps School (Athens, Georgia). The Navy denied my request.
[Further History of ABMA, NASA, and Werhner von Braun (under construction):]
Components of U.S. military’s space program transferred to NASA: President Eisenhower ordered (on October 21, 1959) components of the military’s space program to be transferred to NASA (transferred to NASA in 1960), and a substantial proportion of ABMA facilities was leased (in July 1960) to NASA to form the George C. Marshall Space Flight Center. Some of these facilities later received national historic recognition for their activity during both the ABMA and NASA eras (source: http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/facility/redstone.htm). Click here and here for details (Google™ search results). Click here and here for more details (Bing™ search results). Click here and here for Wernher von Braun and NASA.
Wernher von Braun: Wernher von Braun, director of development operations division, was an early leader of America's rocket team of scientists and engineers after World War II.. Click here for more details on Wernher von Braun. Also click here and here for further details. Dr. von Braun life has been the subject of biographers. See, e.g., https://www.google.com/#q=wernher+von+braun&safe=active&. See also, e.g., R. J. (Bob) Ward, Dr. Space: The Life of Wernher von Braun (2005) (Forwardby John Glenn). A review of Ward's book (available at at http://www.amazon.com/Dr-Space-Life-Werner-Braun/dp/1591149274/ref=pd_bxgy_b_img_z (emphasis added)) had the following to say:
Written by veteran aerospace journalist Bob Ward, who spent years investigating his subject, this biography presents a revealing but even-handed portrait of the father of modern rocketry. As he chronicles Werner von Braun's life, Ward explodes many myths and misconceptions about the controversial genius who was a hero to some, a villain to others. The picture of von Braun that emerges is of a brilliant scientist with limitless curiosity and a drive to achieve his goals at almost any price--from developing the world's first ballistic missile used against the Allies in World War II to helping launch the first U.S. satellite that hurled Americans into space and the Saturn V super-booster that powered them to the moon. Along the way readers are introduced to the human side of this charismatic visionary who brought the United States into the Space Age.
See also, e.g., Michael Neufeld, Von Braun: Dreamer of Space, Engineer of War (2007), http://www.amazon.com/Von-Braun-Dreamer-Space-Engineer/dp/0307389375. The book's review in the Washington Post by Guy Gugliotta (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/13/AR2007091302117.html) notes that
Yet despite his career as a space pitchman, von Braun was no charlatan, and Neufeld shows clearly that his achievements as a rocketman are unsurpassed. He was able to put the first U.S. satellite, Explorer I, in orbit in the panicked aftermath of the Soviet Union's 1957 Sputnik launch, and he delivered the Saturn V in time to fulfill President John F. Kennedy's 1961 promise of putting a man on the Moon "before this decade is out." Von Braun may have been a flawed hero, as Neufeld elegantly shows, but he delivered the goods.
[Forthcoming from research below]
Dennis Piszkiewicz,Wernher von Braun: The Man Who Sold the Moon (1998), http://www.amazon.com/Wernher-von-Braun-Sold-Moon/dp/0275962172 (Publishers Weekly: “Von Braun, who became a U.S. citizen in 1955, was a national hero to many and prophet of the space age. Including a history of the U.S.-Soviet space race, this biography makes a convincing case that he was also a war criminal, his past sanitized for expediency.”).
[Forthcoming from research below]
Wernher von Braun, Encyclopaedia Britannica, Encyclopaedia Britannica Online, Mar. 30, 2014, http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/78018/Wernher-von-Braun. Noting Erik Bergaust, Reaching for the Stars (1960) ("a definitive and authoritative biography"). The Encyclopaedia Britannica noted that
Braun always recognized the value of the work of American rocket pioneer Robert Goddard. “Until 1936,” said Braun, “Goddard was ahead of us all.” At the end of World War II, Braun, his younger brother Magnus, Dornberger, and the entire German rocket-development team surrendered to U.S. troops. Within a few months Braun and about 100 members of his group were at the U.S. Army Ordnance Corps test site at White Sands, N.M., where they tested, assembled, and supervised the launching of captured V-2s for high-altitude research purposes. Developmental studies were made of advanced ramjet and rocket missiles. At the end of the war, the United States had entered the field of guided missiles with practically no previous experience. The technical competence of Braun’s group was outstanding. “After all,” he said, “if we are good, it’s because we’ve had 15 more years of experience in making mistakes and learning from them!”
After moving to Huntsville, Ala., in 1952, Braun became technical director (later chief) of the U.S. Army ballistic-weapon program. Under his leadership, the Redstone, Jupiter-C, Juno, and Pershing missiles were developed. In 1955 he became a U.S. citizen and, characteristically, accepted citizenship wholeheartedly. During the 1950s Braun became a national and international focal point for the promotion of space flight. He was the author or coauthor of popular articles and books and made addresses on the subject.
. . . .
After the National Aeronautics and space Program Administration (NASA) was formed to carry out the U.S. space program, Braun and his organization were transferred from the army to that agency. As director of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Braun led the development of the large space launch vehicles, Saturn I. IB,, and V. The engineering success of each rocket in the Saturn class of space boosters, which contained millions of individual parts, remains unparalleled in rocket history. Each was launched successfully and on time and met safe-performance requirements.
In March 1970 Braun was transferred to NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C., as deputy associate administrator for planning. He resigned from the agency in 1972 to become vice president at Fairchild Industries, Inc., an aerospace company. In 1975 he founded the National Space Institute, a private organization whose objective was to gain public support and understanding of space activities.
[Noting also Erik Bergaust, Reaching for the Stars (1960), a definitive and authoritative biography.]
Huntsville, Alabama: See also, e.g., Jeffrey Zaslow, In Huntsville, Ala., Rocketerr' Legacy Has Complex Echoes:Residents Embrace Scientists Brought In After War, But Nazi Past Still Haunts, Wall St. J., Nov. 10, 2004, at A1
[Research re Wernher von Braun:]
Wernher von Braun: The Man Who Sold the Moon (Dennis Piszkiewicz, (Amazon review at http://www.amazon.com/Wernher-von-Braun-Sold-Moon/dp/0275962172 : The book reveals that factions of the U.S. Army, in their zeal to have von Braun's team of scientists working for American interests, covered up what they knew about his complicity in Nazi causes and abetted him in the perpetuation of the myth he carefully created about his past.)
The Mars Project by Wernher Von Braun and Henry J. White (Oct 1, 1962), http://www.amazon.com/The-Mars-Project-Wernher-Braun/dp/0252062272/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1396162217&sr=8-4&keywords=wernher+von+braun
[customer review] This book is a real classic. You will see how rocket wizzard and space visionary Wernher von Braun and his colleagues imagined a manned mission to Mars with the technology available in the mid 20th century. With today's knowledge and financial horizon, von Braun's vision looks pretty oversized, and the surface of Mars certainly is very different from what they believed 50 years ago. The very value of this book is that it simply showed how such an extensive mission could be made feasible -- that it is possible to send people to Mars without fancy technology of science fiction writers. The authors use some calculus and diagrams to explain the complicated flight dynamics for sending a spacecraft to another planet and landing on its surface.
Today we know that a mission to Mars will not look like von Braun's "Mars Project" but it is good to know that most of the basics haven't changed. Buy this book together with Robert Zubrin's "Case for Mars" and you'll see the progress within half a century. [Zubrin's "Case for Mars" is available at http://www.amazon.com/Case-Mars-Robert-Zubrin-ebook/dp/B004G8QU6U
[customer review] I found this book in a search that was filtered for science fiction, and I didn't see anything in skimming the reviews that made me think otherwise. Please be warned: this is not fiction. It has no characters or plot. It is a rocket science textbook packed with equations and technical diagrams. If that's what you're looking for, you're in luck!
Wayne Biddle, Dark Side of the Moon: Wernher von Braun, the Third Reich, and the Space Race (2009), http://www.amazon.com/Dark-Side-Moon-Wernher-Braun/dp/0393059103/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1396162217&sr=8-6&keywords=wernher+von+braun
Placide D Nicaise, Huntsville and the von Braun Rocket Team (Jan. 4, 2013 (Kindle))
This is THE REAL STORY about a small Southern town at the dawn of the Space Age. It was at this time and this place that engineers struggled to build the machines to take mankind away from Earth for the first time. This is the story of Wernher von Braun--a man with an obsession for space flight and with the genius to make it happen. He and his team struggled against more than gravity and the hazards of outer space on the way to the moon. They faced political pitfalls along the way and abandonment at the end of their mission.
In spite of the distractions, von Braun organized the talent and technology for one triumph after the other in rocketry and space flight. He fired the minds of everyone with his vision of mankind's greatest adventure. In the end, his team accomplished what many people said could not be done--the Apollo missions to the surface of the moon.
Annie Jacobsen, Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program that Brought Nazi Scientists to America (2014), http://www.amazon.com/Operation-Paperclip-Intelligence-Program-Scientists/dp/031622104X/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1396162217&sr=8-5&keywords=wernher+von+braun
In the chaos following World War II, the U.S. government faced many difficult decisions, including what to do with the Third Reich's scientific minds. These were the brains behind the Nazis' once-indomitable war machine. So began Operation Paperclip, a decades-long, covert project to bring Hitler's scientists and their families to the United States.
Many of these men were accused of war crimes, and others had stood trial at Nuremberg; one was convicted of mass murder and slavery. They were also directly responsible for major advances in rocketry, medical treatments, and the U.S. space program. Was Operation Paperclip a moral outrage, or did it help America win the Cold War?
For more on Wernher von Braun, see, e,g, https://www.google.com/#q=wernher+von+braun&safe=active
[Research re Huntsville (George C. Marshall Space Flight Center); Johnson Space Center (Houston); Kennedy Space Center (Houston):]
NASA (transferred to NASA in 1960), and a substantial proportion of ABMA facilities was leased (in July 1960) to NASA to form the George C. Marshall Space Flight Center, http://www.nasa.gov/centers/marshall/home/#.UzfUIfldXDU
http://history.nasa.gov (Since its inception in 1958, NASA has accomplished many great scientific and technological feats in air and space.)
http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/history (Johnson Space Center was established in 1961)
http://www.nasa.gov/centers/kennedy/about/history/#.UzfbN1emXIV (A little more than five decades ago, launch pads and towers began to rise one by one above the scrub land, dotting the shoreline of Florida's East coast. By 1960, the "Missile Firing Laboratory" had become an extension of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center.)
http://www.nasa.gov/centers/kennedy/about/history/#.UzfYDfldXDU (A little more than five decades ago, launch pads and towers began to rise one by one above the scrub land, dotting the shoreline of Florida's East coast. By 1960, the "Missile Firing Laboratory" had become an extension of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center.)
. . . .
On July 1, 1962, NASA officially activated the Launch Operations Center at the seaside spaceport, granting the center equal status to Marshall and offering the center's new director, Dr. Kurt H. Debus, a direct report to the agency's headquarters in Washington, D.C. The following year the center was renamed to honor the president who put America on the path to the moon.).
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Encyclopaedia Britannica, Encyclopaedia Britannica Online, Mar. 30, 2014, http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/404272/National-Aeronautics-and-Space-Administration National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), independent U.S. governmental agency established in 1958 for the research and development of vehicles and activities for the exploration of space within and outside of Earth’s atmosphere.
http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/history, (Johnson Space Center was established in 1961)
http://history.nasa.gov/centerhistories/printFriendly/marshall.htm (In April 1950 the U.S Army established its team of rocket specialists, headed by Dr. Wernher von Braun, as the Ordnance Guided Missile Center at Redstone Arsenal, Huntsville, Alabama. This center was the origin of what eventually became the George C. Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC). On 1 February 1956 the Army Ballistic Missile Agency (ABMA) was formed at Redstone Arsenal ABMA. This was a merger and expansion of existing agencies there; its team of scientists and engineers formed the nucleus of the Development Operations Division.
Early in 1960 President Eisenhower submitted a request to Congress for the transfer of ABMA's space missions to NASA, including certain facilities and personnel, chiefly the Development Operations Division. The transfer became effective 14 March 1960 and NASA set up its "Huntsville Facility" in preparation for formal establishment of the field center later that year. The next day, 15 March, President Eisenhower proclaimed the NASA facility would be called George C. Marshall Space Flight Center." The name honored George C. Marshall, General of the Army, who was Chief of Staff during World War II, Secretary of State 1948-1949, and author of the Marshall Plan. General Marshall was the only professional soldier to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, awarded to him in 1954.)
In 1956-1957 I do not recall my being aware of any of the history at that time of the German scientists’ participation in the space/rocket program in Huntsville, or of Wernher von Braun’s having moved to Huntsville in 1952. Had I known in 1956-1957 what I know now, I probably would sought to receive orders to report to the labs, to the extent that they were in existence at that time at any stage of their inception/planning, in Florida (Kennedy Space Center's inception/planning circa 1958 (?)) or Houston (Johnson Space Center's inception/planning circa 1958 (?)).
I would have made such a request to be transferred to the Florida or Houston labs to avoid being subjected to, and spared, controversy -- and out of respect for the views, and feelings, of those opposed to using WWII V-2 rocket German scientists at ABMA -- on my serving a tour of Army duty at AMBA Huntsville (or George C. Marshall Space Flight Center (1960 (?)). I would probably made a similar request if I were to have extended my work at AMBA either in the military (Army or Navy) and continuing afterward in civilian life after discharge from the military.
These difficulties would seem to have been by-passed by ABMA's having me report to the Cape Canaveral labs (see below on this page Correspondence on engineering position at ABMA at (4) Letter on Research Engineer assignment to Missile-Firing Laboratory (Apr. 24, 1957)) when it specified my exact initial assignment as Research Engineer (Aeronautical Instrumentation) in the Missile Firing Laboratory at Cape Canaveral, Florida. [Forthcoming: above difficulties and career decision not reached by reason of Navy's not giving me orders to report to ABMA, though still needed to decide, on discharge from Navy, what to do re scholarships at MIT (mechanical engineering), Ohio State University (mechanical engineering), and HBS (MBA) [add documentary excerpts either in this paragraph or in Gallery 4a on Navigation Bar, or in both] dependent on career choice to pursue engineering or management and law. See on Navigation Bar SELECTED HONORS: at Graduate School Scholarship (Teagle (1959-61) Harvard University, Graduate School of Business) and at Other Fellowships/Scholarships (M.I.T., Engineering Fellowship (unable to accept; 1959); Ohio State Univ., Mechannical Engineering Dept., invitation to submit fellowship application (unable to accept; 1956).]
[end of Further History of ABMA, NASA, and Werhner von Braun (under construction)]
Correspondence on engineering position at ABMA:
- Synopsis of ABMA correspondence:
(2) Notice of Rating by U.S. Civil Service Commission (Jan. 3, 1957) ("Eligible--Your numerical rating is 99 -- Provisional: upon graduation, May, 1957").
(3) Letter on jurisdiction (Feb. 14, 1957 (emphasis added) ("we have no jurisdiction in military assignments at this Agency" and "very few Navy personnel [are] assigned to ABMA" though “our understanding that at the time you enter the service you are given your choice of assignments. However, these requests are not always approved.”).
(4) Letter on Research Engineer Assignment to Missile-Firing Laboratory (Apr. 24, 1957), confirmed my acceptance and provided some details on scope of assignment: Inasmuch as you have accepted a position with the Army Ballistic Missile Agency” *** “our intention is to assign you to the position of Research Engineer (Aeronautical Instrumentation) in the *** Missile Firing Laboratory” having "the basic function of test firing missiles being developed by this Agency” and “includes functions in the fields of * * *, measuring and tracking of missiles in flight, electronic and electrical design and development work in instrumentation, and acquisition and evaluation of data.” “You are requested to report for duty to the Army Ballistic Missile Agency, Huntsville, Alabama, 3 June 1957. A few days later you will be sent, at Government expense, from Huntsville to your duty station at Port Canaveral, Florida.” “If this assignment is not satisfactory, please advise us immediately and we will arrange for you to be assigned to one of our laboratories here in Huntsville. (Emphasis added.).
- ABMA letters; Notice of Civil Service Commission Rating:
Please see captioned image below.
(2) Notice of Rating by U.S. Civil Service Commission (Jan. 3, 1957)
Please see captioned image below.
(3) Letter on ABMA jurisdiction (Feb. 14, 1957)
Please see captioned image below.
(4) Letter on Research Engineer assignment to Missile-Firing Laboratory (Apr. 24, 1957)
Please see captioned image below.
See also "gallery 4b: roads not taken; road taken" on Navigation Bar. Cf. "gallery 11: professional engineering" on Navigation Bar. See also, "curriculum vitae" (at "Military Experience") on Navigation Bar.