Rocket History

The Von Braun Group in Germany and the U.S.

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They call it rocket science, but at it’s birth it was really rocket play: teenaged boys, getting together to make things soar high into the air. Originating with student rockets clubs that had sprung up throughout Germany in the 1920s, Werner von Braun’s famed research team produced the world’s first real military rockets, for Hitler, and then the Redstone and Saturn rockets that took Americans into space and to the Moon.

Von Braun’s group relocated to Huntsville, Alabama, after World War II. Spectrum’s Bill Sweet visited there to explore how the tradition of rocket amateurism continues.

For more on the cutting edge of rocket technology and which ones are being considered for a future Mars mission, read Rockets for the Red Planet, part of our special report, Why Mars? Why Now?