VON BRAUN, WERNHER. 1912-1977.
Lot 1205
VON BRAUN, WERNHER. 1912-1977.
Sold for US$ 132,000 inc. premium
Auction Details
VON BRAUN, WERNHER. 1912-1977. VON BRAUN, WERNHER. 1912-1977. VON BRAUN, WERNHER. 1912-1977.
Lot Details
World Figures
VON BRAUN, WERNHER. 1912-1977.
35 Autograph Diagrams, Sketches, and Letters, most Signed ("Wernher von Braun" and "Wernher"), 4to, [Huntsville, AL?], 1952-1953, being the basis for Chesley Bonestell, Fred Freeman, and Rolf Klep's illustrations for the series "Man will Conquer Space Soon!" in Collier's magazine, the plans and diagrams on graph paper, all extensively annotated, mounted on album leaves with stamp hinges, 4 framed and glazed.

During the 1950s, von Braun pursued his own fascination with space exploration, a counterfoil to his official work on military rockets which had culminated in the V-2 rocket fired on England on September 7, 1944. Just days before Germany’s official surrender, von Braun and his team defected to the encroaching American Forces and were brought to the United States to head up the country’s rocket development team.
While working on the Redstone rocket, von Braun produced a series of articles that formed the centerpiece of the series "Man Will Conquer Space Soon!", published in Collier's between March 22, 1952 and April 30, 1954. His dream was for a space station that could serve as the starting point for manned lunar landings, the construction of permanent lunar bases, and ultimately a mission to put men on Mars.
The present plans and sketches are the source material for the illustrations by Chesley Bonestell, Fred Freeman and Rolf Klep that accompanied the series. Bonestell's cover for Collier's, March 22, 1952, showed the front portion of the "3-Stage Satellite Vehicle" discarding the second booster, while in orbit around Earth. Nine heavily annotated diagrams by von Braun in the present group describe this vehicle and its orbits from different angles and at varying levels of detail ("Aft portion 1st Satellite Vehicle … 39 hexagonal exhaust nozzles," "Speed here: 3.1 mi/sec … Skin temp: 1350F (maximum!)"). Further plans include: "One-way ship"; "Round trip ship" ("debarking on the moon", "as it looks at departure from satellite orbit"); "Orbit-to-orbit space ship for trip around the moon"; "Baby Satellite" ("For Chesley Bonestell's take-off picture," "Mechanism of deployment of solar mirror"). Eight sketches show trailers and other parts of what is presumably a lunar base. They are fitted with radar and television antennas, as well as banks of computers. These more informal sketches shed light on the working relationship of von Braun and the Collier's artists: "Fred [Freeman]: I think a 10ft antenna looks to [sic] clumsy on roof of trailer. Suggest to mount it on some sort of gun carriage like this. I am sure you will find something of this sort in technical literature ... (This is only an unpretentious sketch)."
The three letters addressed to "Connie" (Cornelius Ryan, the editor of the series), are in a similar vein. One gives detailed descriptions "for Rolf Klep's headquarters layout": "you will find six boxes marked 'IBM punchcard machines' ... If Rolf or you go to the next IBM sales office in New York ... and ask for literature about data reduction and evaluation equipment, you'll get the dope." The other two are more hurried notes, dashed off late at night ("20 April, 25h" – presumably 1am): "Here are some more diagrams. Please run off some Photostats, distribute them to Chesley, Rolf and Fred ... For Chesley they should be self-explanatory (I hope). After all – he doesn't show the finer details anyhow. But please ask him to send his working sketches for a check-up before he tackles the paint brush."
Von Braun was made Director of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in 1960, but it was only at the end of that decade that his dream to see man on the Moon was realized.
See illustration.
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