Apollo's Nazi connections

Published: Monday 31 December 2007

-- A once top-secret manuscript by Wernher von Braun, the Nazi physicist turned leading figure in us space exploration, which is widely recognized as a milestone in the development of modern space science went under the hammer in New York.

The 166-page document, which von Braun wrote for his PhD dissertation in 1934, contains the scientist's hand-written annotations as well charts and graphs. The contents of the dissertation were considered so pivotal to the future of rocket development that it was seized by the German military and remained classified until 1960. Von Braun developed Nazi Germany's V2 combat rocket which was known as the Vergeltungswaffen 2. He and his fellow scientists surrendered to American troops at the end of the war and were integrated into the us's scientific community. Von Braun went on to become the director of Nasa's Marshall Space Flight Centre and the main architect of the Saturn V launch vehicle for Apollo 8, which enabled the Americans to put a man on the moon.

Until now the manuscript, which was auctioned at Bonhams in Manhattan, had been in the possession of a fellow scientist who worked with von Braun on the V2 rocket project.

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