Wernher von Braun (1912–1977) would have turned 100 on March 23. His name is almost synonymous with “rocket scientist” to many. Father of the American space program, including the first American satellite, the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs, the moon landings and Skylab, von Braun left an indelible mark on America and the world.
Several science sites posted photo memorials of his life. Space.com gave a very favorable report of not only his intellect and achievements, but his character. David Christensen, who worked with von Braun, spoke from his experience with the giant of rocketry:
- He was very unique. I don’t know of another individual, frankly, that’s had those capabilities, either then or now, that could do the things he did.
- He was a very warm personality.
- He was very down to Earth and friendly, never talked down to anyone. But talking to him, working on a project, you learned very quickly he was a genius.
- He was a very broad-based individual, very culturally capable; he played several musical instruments, wrote music, he was an astronomer and he was certainly a top notch engineer.
See also Space.com’s photo gallery. The article, echoed on Live Science, did not overlook concerns about von Braun’s alleged involvement with the Nazi regime: “Scholars are still reassessing his role in these controversial activities,” the article said, implying lack of consensus on whether his connections were voluntary or coerced. One thing is clear: once in America, he was admired for his intellect, character, leadership, and dedication to the peaceful exploration of space.
Late in the Apollo program, Wernher von Braun became a Christian and supporter of creation and academic freedom – the freedom of students to question Darwinian materialism. He wrote popular articles on the relationship of science and faith (see samples). “The better we understand the intricacies of the universe and all it harbors, the more reason we have found to marvel at the inherent design upon which it is based,” he said in 1972….
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