Broadcast 913 (Special Edition)

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Guest: Dr. Michael Neufeld was the guest for this Easter Sunday Space Show program. Dr. Neufeld is the chair of the Space History Division of the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum and author of the biography, "Von Braun: Dreamer of Space/Engineer of War." As today's program is on what would have been the 96th birthday of Von Braun, having a discussion on his life was most appropriate. We discussed Von Braun's Nazi past and Dr.Neufeld was clearing up myths and rumors, providing us with factual history regarding Von Braun. Many listener questions came in about Von Braun's Nazi background and its influence on the American space program. Several listeners were interested in Von Braun's focus, humans versus robotics, and one question toward the end of the program even asked how Von Braun might see things today given the VSE and tight NASA budgets. You will want to hear this discussion. There were listener questions about the V2 rocket program, the Von Braun relationship with Walt Disney, Bonestell, Carl Sagan, O'Neill, Korolev, and more. Dr. Neufeld also talked about Von Braun in context with Goddard and his earlier work, as well as the secrecy of the Soviet program versus the openness of what Von Braun was doing with our program. We talked about early influences in the life of Von Braun and Dr. Neufeld said without a doubt the primary early influence was Herman Obrecht. He then followed with the details of Von Braun's formal education and academic degrees. One listener asked about Von Braun influencing the behavior of space advocates and space cadets, as was discussed in the program a few days ago with Dr. John Jurist . Dr. Neufeld agreed, but added it was more than just Von Braun and Heinlein, these influences included Willy Ley, Colliers Magazine, Walt Disney, Arthur C. Clarke, and others. You will want to hear what says in response to this question. We also talked about unity within the German rocket team, the Army's role, Sputnik, Explorer 1, and the early days of the Marshall Spaceflight Center. We discussed Von Braun's decision to move from Huntsville to work at NASA Headquarters. Yet another listener aske d d about President Eisenhower and his relationship with Von Braun. In this part of the program, you will hear myths and rumors dispelled and a factual, well researched Von Braun history. I urge all listeners to get a copy of this book and read it as it is a comprehensive history of one of the most important and famous pioneers of the American, and in fact, world, space program. Clearly, it shows the complexity of the man, the good and the bad. If you have questions or comments for Dr. Neufeld about his book or Von Braun, you can email them through me at or use his public Smithsonian email address,



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23 Mar 2008 Dr. Michael Neufeld
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