Signed book: The Mars Project. First edition. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1953. Hardcover with dust jacket, 7.25 x 9.25, 91 pages. Signed and inscribed on the title page in blue ballpoint, "To Ronald Wakeford, affectionately—Wernher von Braun." In fine condition, with edge tears and small areas of paper loss to the dust jacket. The recipient, Ronald C. Wakeford, illustrated the International Missile and Spacecraft Guide, written by Frederick I. Ordway III, which was published in 1960.
In March 1952, von Braun published the first of a series of articles for Collier’s magazine dedicated to interplanetary spaceflight. Accompanied by illustrations from Chesley Bonestell, Fred Freeman, and Rolf Klep, the articles thrilled a generation and soon led to the publication of The Mars Project in 1953 by the University of Illinois Press. Von Braun envisioned a 70-member crew aboard a fleet of ten spacecraft, comprised of seven ‘passenger’ ships and three ‘cargo’ ships. The cargo ships would orbit the planet and dispatch groups of explorers to the Martian surface on the smaller passenger vessels. In the launch toward Mars the ships would fire their engines for 66 minutes, using more than three-quarters of the propellant on board, and enter a coast for 260 days until arriving at their destination. They would then spend 443 days exploring Mars before returning to Earth, another 260-day voyage.
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.