Until World War II, most Americans thought that rockets were useful only for Fourth of July celebrations and trips to the moon. But not Dr. Theodore von Kármán, the cigar-smoking, eager boss of the famed Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratory at CalTech. With Air Force and private funds, Dr. von Kármán had been experimenting enough with rockets to know they could be an important weapon. And since he was well acquainted with the work of the top Axis aerodynamicists, he knew what fast progress they were making with rockets. But when Dr. von Kármán...

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