posted on Oct, 16 2006 @ 01:24 PM
While it’s all history now it is noteworthy that the Weimar Republic continued rocket development until Hitler came to power in 1933. They made
great strides that could never have been duplicated during the war years of 1939-45 alone no matter how much effort was expended. This is a mirror of
what a nuclear program might have been had it begun much earlier. Had the likes of Albert Einstein explored the nuclear questions with funding during
the 1920s in a program equally serious to the rocket one we must shudder to think of the results.
The study of nuclear power in Germany began far too late and was far too fragmented amongst multiple groups working blind relative to their
counterparts. Had they all worked together it makes sense that the probability of success would be increased. Also the fact that had those other
esteemed scientists had been working in close quarters with Wernher Heisenberg they would have recognized his reluctance to produce serious results.
For example Kurt Diebner and Paul Hartek worked on uranium enrichment for a uranium-based bomb while Heisenberg tried to create sustained fission
reactions and possibly a plutonium breeder reactor.
Of course the modus operandi of the Third Reich was rivalry fostered by Hitler himself. All factions and individuals involved in any undertaking or
plan were in competition with peers which produced back-stabbing dramas, deceit and secrecy. The infighting between Munitions Minister Albert Speer
and the SS is a good example. As Speer withdrew funds from atomic research projects the SS covertly funded them.
It is a very outside chance that given different circumstances it all would have come together with Germany possessing a nuclear bomb and a vehicle
capable of delivering it to the USA. But history as we know it was often decided by the slimmest of margins. A different decision or a fortunate
breakthrough within a razor’s edge of variance would have produced a different outcome. It is historical fact that the US developed a nuclear bomb
but it took several more years before it had a missile to deliver it. And that came from von Braun!! It’s not difficult to see how a program begun
several years earlier could have produced results in Germany.
Did the 2-stage A-9/A-10 get into space though? An existing hazy photo shows a swept-winged A-9 on top of a cluster of rocket boosters, flames
pouring out of five nozzles on the array. There is no way to place the object relative to anything for size comparison.
The October 10, 1952, edition of the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet reported that a space rocket had been launched from an SS facility near Prague in
February 1945. The vehicle described sounded like an A-9/A-10. We note this is the same area/facility that is associated with UFO-like Nazi disc
tales that flood the internet today.
"On January 8, 1945, the first version of the A-9 took off. The control failed about 30 meters (100 feet) above the firing table (launch pad),"
Dornberger wrote about the Prague launches, "A few days later, we were unable to launch another missile because the alcohol tank had developed a
leak. At last, on January 24 (1945), we had our first success. The rocket, climbing vertically, reached a peak height of nearly 80 kilometers (50
miles) at a maximum speed of 4,300 kilometers per hour (2,700 miles per hour)."
Perhaps the A-9/A-10 missile is what roared into the heavens and has been convolutedly described as a saucer. We know test flights of the A-9 alone
Dornberger said that von Braun was a problem solver extraordinaire. So if there was any alternate historical reality to ponder we can rest assured
that von Braun would have achieved any goal laid down.
There was never any doubt that manned space travel was Wernher von Braun's life goal. The technology needed for manned flight presented many
technical challenges. He realized early on that only multi-staged, liquid-propelled rockets could achieve this dream. Rockets certainly needed
light-weight propellant tanks. And there still had to be a payload. Von Braun knew that liquid oxygen/liquid hydrogen was the ultimate propellant
combination but also that learning how to handle liquid hydrogen would be a long-term affair.
The Advanced Projects Group planned to develop a stratospheric rocket that could travel from Europe to America in 40 minutes after the war. Then the
target was orbital spaceships that could reach 8 KPS and 500 km orbital altitude. Beyond that it was orbiting space stations including an observatory
in space and a space mirror. Manned expeditions to the moon were also a popular theme for research. Finally, the use of nuclear energy to achieve
interstellar travel was studied by the Advanced Projects Group.
The Nazi rocket program was very costly. The same amount of Reichsmarks could have funded equipment and weapons production that would have had a more
immediate positive impact on the German military. On the other hand rocket attacks against England and the Low Countries were the ultimate terror
weapon. No one knew how many the Germans had. Allied resources had to be diverted to study the rocket weapons and attempt to plan defenses against
them plus gather intelligence and analyze it. There was a lot unknown at the time and fear of that unknown can’t be dismissed. Psychologically
they were an impact on the population.
We will probably never know everything about the German rocket and nuclear programs. All the principle people are gone and even when they were here
they downplayed things. Most documents on the subject were destroyed at the end of hostilities. No one wanted to have proof that they’d worked on
sinister Amerika rockets made to carry nuclear weapons. That might have hindered post-war job offers!
The remarkable progress that was made after Hitler gave the A-4 full support in July 1943 would have been taken much farther had funds and personnel
been dedicated in late 1939 or early 1940. Thankfully, the world was better off for his indecisiveness, mind changes and his control freakiness.
Otherwise it is highly likely that the A-9 would have been seen over America.
Once classified documents warned of the nuclear threat from Germany via rocket. We simply didn't know back then.