Wernher von Braun (1912-1977)

Born into an aristocratic family in Wirsitz, Posen (now Poznan in Poland) on 23 March 1912, von Braun studied engineering and physics in Berlin. He was also a member of a rocket society and impressed Walter Dornberger, who invited him to join the army’s rocket artillery unit in 1932. The first successful rocket launch two years later led to the development of the A4 (V2) rocket.

After the Second World War, von Braun moved to the United States and worked for the US Army. After the US Army launched the first American satellite in 1958, von Braun joined NASA as the director of the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. He then developed the Saturn V rocket which carried Apollo 11 to the Moon in 1969. Having achieved his life-long goal, von Braun retired in 1970 and became Vice-President of Fairchild Industries. He died on 16 June 1977.