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Item 6059 - Wernher von Braun 1958 Autograph Letter Signed Catalog 526 (Apr 2018)

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Description


ALS in pencil, signed “Wernher,” three pages on two lined sheets, 8 x 10.5, March 6, 1958. Letter to fellow rocket scientist Ernst Stuhlinger, in part: "I presented Project Adam to York in such epic detail, incl. approx. cost, and he was greatly impressed by overall scheme, Redstone reliability aspect, time schedule, use of those few 'left-over' Jup-C boosters, and low cost…He did not say a word about an existing Air Force project already approved by Roy Johnson, and I strongly suspect from the enthusiasm he showed toward our Adam scheme, that he didn't know about it…I suggest you call Dr. York…Tell him about Simons and Winzer's call re competitive Air Force project; tell him that we feel the demonstrated reliability of the Redstone (test-fired since 1953) should be an important consideration with manned experiments; ask him if it's true that Johnson has approved the AF project (I hardly believe it as he hasn't even taken over his office!!); and if it is true, ask him what he (York) thought of our 'Step No. 1'—idea…In other words, get guidance from York; he's the key to the whole thing and I had the definite impression that he's all for Adam…I'm all for 'Redstone' or 'modified Redstone' in lieu of 'Jupiter-C' in this case. 'Redstone' implies more reliability, anyway. But it must be the long boosters!" Includes Stuhlinger's TLS to von Braun, signed "Ernst," one page, March 6, 1958, in part: "Major Simons and O. Winzen called me last night and said that the AF has a project similar to 'Adam,' but much bigger, which has been approved by Mr. Johnson about 2 weeks ago. Maj. Simons suggested to enter our proposal into this project as 'Step No. 1.' Some of the components, like capsule, cone, and re-entry package, would be made interchangeable with equipment in later steps…Maj. Simons said that whenever the name 'Jupiter-C' is mentioned, AF people believe that this is Jupiter, and say that Thor can do the same thing much better. He recommends not to call it 'Jupiter-C' but 'Modified Redstone,' or something like this, for Project Adam." In fine condition, with staples holes and rust marks to upper left corner.

Building on the success of his Redstone putting America's first satellite into space in February 1958, von Braun conceived Project Adam, an attempt to put a man in space by the end of 1959. Von Braun proposed a $12 million budget and believed that this could compete against the Air Force's $100 million Man In Space Soonest (MISS) concept—presumably the project referenced in this letter, which remained a secret at the time. NACA director Hugh Dryden called von Braun's plan a 'circus stunt,' and interagency squabbling ultimately killed Project Adam. Its key concept, however—putting a man in space aboard a Redstone missile derivative—was absorbed by Project Mercury, which achieved success with Alan Shepard's Freedom 7 flight on May 5, 1961.

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