Weapons Of Mass Destruction Have Sent Us To The Stars

That Time Wernher von Braun's Rocket Tried To Kill My Father

"Humanity now lives in space permanently. Our spacecraft have left the solar system. Our space telescopes look back to the beginning of time. We are spacefarers. Space technology has its roots in weapons of war. America's early accomplishments in space were achieved with direct use of Nazi technology and personnel. Russia followed a similar path. Today North Korea, Iran, and other nations use rocket designs with a clear lineage originating with Hitler's V-2. All technology is iterative. Smart technology persists and finds peaceful uses despite its war making origins. As we focus on the 50th anniversary of America's Apollo 11 mission, it would be informative to glance back at the legacy of using Nazi technology to accomplish this epochal feat of human ingenuity. For me this is incredibly personal. Hitler's V-2 nearly killed my father. Yet I helped design things that flew into space on rockets inspired by V-2 technology - often with my friends on board. The technology that tried to kill my father gave me a career."

Keith's note: Two Titan III rockets - enhanced versions of one of America's first ICBMs - sent the twin Voyagers on a path that has carried them out of our solar system towards the stars. Titan rockets were originally designed to kill vast numbers of people in an instant. They were descended directly from Nazi technology that attempted to do the same. The first humans sent into space were lofted aboard modified ICBMs. Luckily the Titans - and other ICBMs - have never been used as weapons. But the V-2s were. As we honor those who fought to defend against these early space weapons - and mourn those killed by them - and those who died as slave labor building them - its is more important than ever to work to resist heading down that path again.

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on November 11, 2019 12:21 AM.

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