Important Individuals In Space Exploration

Wernher Von Braun (1912-1977)
Between 1930 and 1970, Wernher was the foremost champion in rocket development. His dedication and success in this field and the greater notion of space exploration was rooted in the science fiction novels of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells. During his teenage years, Wernher became involved in the German rocket society and inevitably found himself working for the German Army attempting to develop ballistic missiles. He is extremely well known for his controversial role in the "rocket team" ofNazi Germany which successfully developed the V-2 ballistic missile during WWII.

V-2 missile was the foundational structure necessary for the development of rockets utilized in both United States and Soviet Union Space Exploration programs. The V-2 missile was liquid propelled, 46 feet in length and weighing over 27,000 pounds. It had a a range of 500 miles and traveled at speeds in excess of 3,500 miles per hour.

Fearing the fall of Nazi Germany was imminent, Wernher coordinated the strategic surrender of 500 of the top scientists working on the "rocket team" as well as multiple plans, test vehicles and other crucial data and resources. For the next 15 years, he worked alongside U.S. scientists on a project called Paperclip. Its mission was the development of military grade ballistic missiles. In 1950, after testing a multitude of ballistic missiles on the Sands Proving Ground, New Mexico, Wernher and his team moved to Redstone Arsenal near Huntsville, Alabama where they created the Army's Jupiter ballistic missile.

After this success, the ballistic missile creator and his team were transferred into the newly formed NASA organization in 1960. They were commissioned to build the Saturn rockets; which was successfully done. Wernher Von Braun was consequently named the Director of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center as well as the Chief Architect of the Saturn V launch vehicle. This was thee very same technology and super booster which eventually allowed America to reach the moon. His influence on the international quest for space exploration has led to the discovery and development of technology and knowledge which has transformed the very way the world and each of its inhabitants individual live. Though his years working under Nazi Germany have become a controversial entity to his positive contributions, space exploration will be forever influenced by his dedication and brilliance.

Sergei Korolev (1907- 1966)
Sergei's story begins with his imprisonment during the height of the Nazi takeover of Germany. Korolev spent imprisonment both on the Transiberian railway and within the mines of Koylma. Stalin soon began to realize the importance aeronautical engineer's were going to play in the impending hostility with Hitler and moved the prisoners to a contained prison designed bureaus to exploit them for the intelligence.
"Following the war, Korolev was released from prison and appointed Chief Constructor for development of a long-range ballistic missile. By 1 April 1953, as Korolev was preparing for the first launch of the R-11 rocket, he received approval from the Council of Ministers for development of the world's first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), the R-7. " Sergei would prove to be an extreme influencer in space exploration as his work on intercontinental ballistic missiles and completion of one, led to the R-7 ICBM propelling Sputnik into space and creating extreme fear from the U.S. that the Soviet Union had the capability to launch nuclear missiles at the states.
He continued to work on the development of rockets into space and was a primary figurehead in the pursuit of having the first cosmonaut propelled into space utilizing his technology. Though his project was eventually cancelled, he is seen today as a true influencer of space exploration.

Kerim Kerimov (1917- 2003)
Kerim entered into the Soviet Union Space Program as a young artillery officer. He showed a strong dedication and intelligence to his work and was seen as a future key in the development and progression of the Soviet Union in space. As the war concluded many scientists such as Wernher Van Braun surrendered to coalition forces and allied with them. Others, such as Kerim Kerimov, began to rebuild what was left of the space program and rockets. Soon the Soviet Union began sending dogs on sounding rockets in experiments for manned space rocket flights.
As time went on, Kerim became the new head of "state commission for flight testing of Soyuz spacecraft." By this time, 8 successful manned trips into space had been performed but Kerim and the commission set their sights on successfully docking a spacecraft in orbit. This was during the successful docking of 10 U.S. spacecrafts putting further pressure on Kerimov to provide the Soviet Union with some success. This pressure led him to authorize the launch of a multitude of manned and unmanned spacecrafts leading to the death of cosmonauts and the ultimate abandonment of the program's goal of moon and docking in orbit.

Valentin Glushko (1908-1989)
Valentin was a bright young man who utilize books and his own writings to discover his calling in rocket development and further liquid propellent engines. "In August 1925 Glushko entered Leningrad State University. There he designed an interplanetary spacecraft, the ‘Gelioraketoplan', powered with electric engines. This came to the attention of the military. From 15 May 1929 the young Glushko was a leading light at the Leningrad GDL (Gas Dynamics Laboratory), builders of the earliest Russian liquid rocket engines." Soon Glushko was appointed to supervise the entire liquid propellent entity of the rocket development program. But before the liquid propelled missiles were launched he was imprisoned by Stalin. After Stalin utilized many of the scientists imprisoned along with Valentin to develop rockets to combat Hitler, Glushko pushed for the manned flights into space in Germany. After successfully developing liquid propellents and new technologically built engines for space flight he was appointed to Chief Designer of the Soviet Space Program.

Bob Gilruth (1913-2000)
He attended the University of Minnesota and was awarded a Masters Degree in Aeronautical Engineering. "While there he was deeply involved in the design and wind tunnel testing of the Laird Meteor racing plane, which seized the world speed record in 1935. Gilruth went straight to NACA's Langley Aeronautical Laboratory after graduation in 1937. In 1946 he was named chief of the pilotless aircraft research division at Wallops Island, then named an Assistant Director at Langley from 1952." When the NACA became NASA he was appointed Assistant Director of MannedSatellites and head of project Mercury. When NASA moved to Houston, TX he became Director and under his leadership the U.S. successfully planned, launched and executed the Apollo and Mercury missions inevitably winning the moon race.

Christopher Kraft (1924)
He attended Virginia Polytechnical Institute and received a B.S. in Aeronautical Engineering. His first year out of school he went to work at the Langley Aeronautical Laboratory. Soon he joined the Space Task Group where he worked on the development of the Mercury Project. When NACA moved to Houston and became the NASA, Christopher became Director of all Mercury missions and many of the Gemini missions. He also directed the design of Mission Control at the Manned Spacecraft Center. Soon after he was named the Director of the Manned Spacecraft Center in 1972 after being the Deputy Director two years prior. He continued as Director of the MSC until his retired in 1982.

Maxime Faget (1921-2004)
He attended a Junior college in San Francisco before attaining a B.S. from Louisiana State University in Mechanical Engineering. In 1946, Maxime joined the NASA team as a research scientist within the Pilotless Aircraft Research Division. Soon after he was promoted to head of the Aerodynamics Branch. He was the first to conceive the notion of a one person spacecraft which translated into the Mercury Missions. He was an original member of the Space Task Group responsible for the successful execution of those missions. He has won a number of different awards including NASA Medal for Outstanding Leadership as well as owns a number of patents including the "Mercury Capsule" and the "Survival Couch."