SPACE: Reach for the Stars

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Some 3,300 scientists and technicians work under Von Braun—but the top men, without exception, are old Peenemunde hands. Nearly all of them, including Von Braun, have become U.S. citizens. Nearly all could make more money in private industry, but they have refused to leave the job. Why? Because they are all enthusiasts, caught up in the space dream. Asks Wernher von Braun scornfully: "What corporation would have sent up a satellite two weeks ago?"

Redstone has no set routine. "Once you have routine," says a lab chief, "you don't have development any longer. Everything changes, and if we stopped changing, we would be out of business." Each man is tops in his own field, works with a minimum of interference from Von Braun. Says one: "If you leave me alone in peace, maybe I'll get finished in a year. If you try to help me, it may take me three years." Yet the work has to be held together, and that is Von Braun's job. It is a job to which he brings a spectrum of knowledge that spans many specialties. Explains Test Lab Chief Karl Heimburg: "I might find it hard to comprehend what Walter Haeusserman [head of the guidance and control lab] is saying. His field is strange to me. Yet Professor von Braun can restate it and make me see clear as day. This is a genius quality."

The Future of Man. When Wernher von Braun goes home at night, his wife Maria (they have two daughters, Margrit, 5, and Iris, 9) can tell what sort of day he has had "before he even gets to the screen door—he shows everything in his face." The Von Brauns rarely leave their home at night, listen to chamber music on their old-fashioned low-fi (they have no television set) while Von Braun pores over books in the living room. There, Wernher von Braun last week talked to TIME Correspondent Edwin Rees about his team's success with Explorer—and the future of man in space.

America has really been nice to us, and although we had to sit around and see the U.S. make some of the mistakes we had made long ago in missilery—it was like coming around the same track again—and we did feel frustrated at times, we are awfully lucky to have carried the day. It makes us feel that we paid back part of a debt of gratitude we owed this country.

Missiles are really interim weapons. This is because both nations have them. Man will always seek the ultimate weapon. And you know what this is? The ultimate weapon is what the other fellow doesn't have. A Piper Cub would take care of the entire Roman army; one machine gun could have eliminated the hordes of Attila. These are ultimate weapons. And so would the control of space be. Man must establish the principle of the freedom of space as he has done with freedom of the seas. And like everything else, we can only establish this from a position of relative strength.

You know, some think of the earth as a safe and comfortable planet, and they say that space is a hostile environment. This is not really true. Earth is protected by its blanket of atmosphere, to be sure, but it is a disorderly place, and unpredictable. It is full of storms and winds, of fogs and ice, of earthquakes. It is also full of people —people with thermonuclear bombs.

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