[Nov. 21, 1960] I aim at the Stars (but sometimes I hit London)

If the United States is doing well in the Space Race, it is in no small thanks to a group of German expatriates who made their living causing terror and mayhem in the early half of the 1940s.  I, of course, refer to Wehrner von Braun and his team of rocket scientists, half of whom were rounded up by the Allies after the War, the other half of whom apparently gave similar service to the Soviets. 

I don’t know if the Russian group is still affiliated with the Communist rocket program–I don’t think so.  Last I heard, they had all been repatriated.  But bon Braun’s group is still going strong.  Until last year, they worked under the auspices of the Army, but now they are employed in a civilian capacity by NASA.  Their giant Saturn project is the backbone of our nascent lunar program.

Of course, the fact that an ex-Nazi is playing such a pivotal role in our space program may not sit well with some.  Perhaps to address this concern, the rather hagiographic movie, I Aim at the Stars has been released.  Interestingly, it’s not quite so sympathetic as it might have been.  Von Braun is played as a rather soulless figure, unconcerned with the political ramifications of his work.  He cares only about his rockets.

Or as a math student from the Bay Area has sung:

“Don’t say that he’s hypocritical.
Say instead that he’s ‘apolitical’.
‘Once the rockets are up, who cares
where they come down. 
That’s not my department,’
says Wehner von Braun.”

A special comic book was made for the movie and handed out at some of the premieres.  I’ve gotten my hands on one of them, and having been given permission to reprint, my editor is reproducing it in its entirety for those of you who won’t make it to the flicks to enjoy Curt Jurgens do a rather good job of not looking at all like Wehrner von Braun.


6 thoughts on “[Nov. 21, 1960] I aim at the Stars (but sometimes I hit London)”

  1. Thank you for sharing this work of literature!  It would seem to be much more fiction than fact!  The art isn’t too good, either!  It reminds me of Mad Magazine in its overuse of a certain punctuation mark!

  2. I am a terrible person. When I read that panel where his wife asks how he can be sure one of his rockets won’t hit a children’s hospital, I immediately thought, “By aiming at it!” It may be apocryphal, but it’s said that von Braun would sit at the precise target site to observe a rocket coming down, because he knew there was no way it would hit there. Makes that panel where his father chastises him for wrecking the neighbor’s greenhouse (“I’ll make a note of that!”) all the more hilarious.

    Tom Lehrer’s a bit more than a math student. He put out his fourth album earlier this year. But, alas, I hear he’s not going to tour anymore. I hope he keeps writing songs, though.

  3. From what I understand, Von Bruans V-2’s never hit their target because they were given false target info from German spies who were turned by British intelligence services.

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