Wernher von Braun’s V-2 Rocket

Although the Nazi “vengeance weapon” was a wartime failure, it ushered in the space age

Wernher von Braun would come to personify NASA's space exploration program. (NASA / Science Faction / Corbis)
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Neufeld says that contrary to popular belief, the V-2 was more effective psychologically—no one heard them coming—than physically. “Because the guidance system wasn’t accurate, many [rockets] fell into the sea or on open countryside....In the end, more people died building the V-2 rockets than were killed by them.”

For all its political complexities, the V-2 remains historic, Neufeld says, “because, even though it was an almost total failure as a military weapon, it represents the beginning of space exploration and the dawn of the intercontinental ballistic missile.”

Owen Edwards is a freelance writer and author of the book Elegant Solutions.

About Owen Edwards
Owen Edwards

Owen Edwards is a freelance writer who previously wrote the "Object at Hand" column in Smithsonian magazine.

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