Autograph manuscript in pencil, three pages, lightly lined, 8 x 10.5, unsigned, no date, written entirely in the hand of von Braun. The manuscript is entitled "Brief Description and Main Data of the Long-Range Rocket 'Comet,'" in part: "The Project Group of 'the Research & Development Service, Sub-Office Rocket, Ft. Bliss, Texas,' composed of German scientists and engineers submitted—according to a given order—a project proposal for a novel long range rocket. It is a combination of the German A4 (V-2) and a new missile named 'Comet.' This new long range rocket represents a twin stage missile the lower part of which is an unessentially modified V-2 rocket (pict. 1). The V-2 at the beginning carrying the 'Comet' as payload accelerates it until a terminal velocity of 3300 ft/sec. This propelled flight, previously vertical, is coincidentally deflected into an inclined trajectory. At point A (pict. 2), after having attained the above velocity, the upper part ('Comet') will by a special mechanism be separated from the carrier rocket (pict. 3). The V-2 then falls down. During flight of the carrier rocket is similar to that formerly used in the V-2. Yet the essential control devices like gyros, computing amplifiers, converters, exept [sic] the servo motors operating the vanes of the carrier, are mounted in the 'Comet' and are connected with the carrier rocket by electric plugs. After the ejection this same steering system is used for the controlling of the 'Comet,' therefore equipped with vanes and servo motors of its own. At a distance of some 20 miles in front of the target the control system of the 'Comet' releases a headlong fall command that effects a dive into the target. The question of the hitting accuracy over a very long range is subject of some of the new proposals, it will, however, not be discussed here. The essential measures of the 'Comet' are recorded below." The third and final page lists the referenced "measures" in three tables listed as "V2 & Comet," "'Carrier V-2,'" and "'Comet.'" In fine condition.
With Germany at war, von Braun became a member of the Nazi Party and served as the technical chief of the rocket-development facility at Peenemunde on the Baltic Coast. As the program’s director of research until 1945, von Braun’s work led to the development of the V-1 and V-2 (Vergeltungswaffe or vengeance weapon), history’s first long-range ballistic missiles, which were used against the Allies during World War II. Von Braun and many of his colleagues surrendered to the US Army in 1945, and were installed at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, as a part of Project Paperclip, using launch facilities at nearby White Sands Proving Ground for rocket development and V-2 high altitude research. The mention of the rocket “Comet” refers to the Hermes Project and the design of a two-stage missile which used a V-2 in its first stage, with a ramjet powered supersonic cruise missile, dubbed the “Comet,” as the second stage; design on the ramjet began on December 10, 1945. A compelling manuscript relating to both von Braun’s controversial past and the lineage of NASA rocketry.
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.