October 3rd, 1942 – Humankind Enters Space

Today-In-History

On October 3rd, 1942 the first man-made object to reached space, it was a V-2 /A4-rocket launched from Test Stand VII at Peenemünde, Germany. 

V2 Rocket 680

The V-2 (German: Vergeltungswaffe 2, “Retribution Weapon 2”), technical name Aggregat-4 (A4), was the world’s first long-range guided ballistic missile. The missile with liquid-propellant rocket engine was developed during the Second World War in Germany as a “vengeance weapon“, designed to attack Allied cities as retaliation for the Allied bombings against German cities. The V-2 rocket was also the first man-made object to cross the boundary of space.

V2 Rocket 2 680Beginning in September 1944, over 3,000 V-2s were launched by the German Wehrmacht against Allied targets during the war, firstly London and later Antwerp and Liège. According to a 2011 BBC documentary, the attacks resulted in the deaths of an estimated 9,000 civilians and military personnel, while 12,000 forced laborers and concentration camp prisoners were killed producing the weapons.

As Germany collapsed, teams from the Allied forces—the U.S., Great Britain and the Soviet Union—raced to capture key German manufacturing sites and examples of German guided missiles, rocket and jet powered aircraft. Wernher von Braun and over 100 key V-2 personnel surrendered to the Americans.

V2 Rocket 3Through a lengthy sequence of events, a significant portion of the original V-2 team ended up working for the US Army at the Redstone Arsenal. The US also captured enough V-2 hardware to build approximately 80 of the missiles. The Soviets gained possession of the V-2 manufacturing facilities after the war and proceeded to re-establish V-2 production and move it to the Soviet Union.

The Redstone team, led by von Braun, was transferred to NASA on its formation in October 1958. For NASA, this new Marshall Spaceflight Center (MSFC) helped design a series of booster rockets in the Saturn family.

“Today in History” on The Pandora Society dot com is primarily focused on Victorian and Edwardian history and does not always have a direct connection to Steampunk, Dieselpunk, or whatever punk; in fact it rarely does, but it is our hope that in sharing these historical events they might serve as some inspiration to the writers in our community to create potential alternative history stories which we look forward to reading 🙂


 

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